Bingo knows what “daddy” means.

She gleefully points to her friends’ fathers and shouts to them, “Daddy!”

Any guy carrying a kid on his shoulders: “Daddy!”

The stock photography guy on the air conditioner box (lying relaxed and, presumably, cool with his stock photography wife and kid): “Daddy!”

She’s even taken two of her friend’s fathers on as her own.  When either of them is around, it isn’t Henry’s daddy or Olivia’s daddy* that we’re talking about: it’s just daddy.  “Daddy push swing!  Silly daddy!”  Inevitably, this has led to uncomfortable public announcements such as, “Daddy at Olivia’s house.  Daddy go home.  Bye bye daddy!”

I have to admit: the unrestrained** enthusiasm for daddies made me a little nervous when it first came up.  “Oh no!”, I thought to myself.  “Bingo knows that she doesn’t have a daddy, and wants one!  What if she resents us?  What if she goes on a desperate and misguided search for father figures later in life?  What if the anti-gay conservative populace hears about this?!”

Then I paused (for the split second that parenting allows any pause to last) and remembered to breathe.

Do you know what else Bingo really wants?  She wants a dog.  She loves Henry’s dogs as much as she loves Henry’s daddy.  The highlight of her short life so far has been getting to hold one of those dog’s leashes on a short walk down the street.  She waves to every dog on the street.  She tells anybody who will listen that Grandma is bringing her a dog for her birthday.

But Grandma is not getting Bingo a dog, unless Grandma wants to be disowned.  Our house is a dog-free house, and will likely remain that way.  Bingo will grow up with a bunch of cats and whatever creatures might live in our walls, but no other furry friends.  And Bingo will be okay.

So, if anybody tells me that Bingo needs a daddy (Bingo included), I’ll explain that all all families are different.  That different people and things fit into our hearts and homes: moms, dads, cats, dogs, budgies, aunts, uncles, grandparents, siblings, friends, entire villages.  I’ll explain that not having any of those things doesn’t mean that you’re missing them.  And I’ll explain that at the end of the day the only daddy in our house is still going to be the guy on the air conditioning box.

*Not her friends actual names, but the names of pretty much every two year old we meet.

**Really though, what is restrained when it comes to toddler?

6 thoughts on “Daddy.

  1. I think that’s a good approach – easy to explain, easy to understand, and is just the truth!

    Evelyn has a “daddy” (in name only, pretty much) and when she was just 2, she kept screaming and howling for “daddy” every time I upset her and even sometimes when I didn’t! I tried not to let it bother me, but there was a small part of me that worried that maybe she felt like something (someone) was missing from her life. Turns out, she was just trying out the word, especially because she heard her daycare peers using the word a lot.

  2. hahaha, “Henry” and “Olivia” must be the names of the century! I swear I know a dozen little Henry’s.
    Good approach on the dad thing – she won’t resent you and she’ll start to get the concept soon!

  3. Thanks for sharing this! Before reading, I would have expected to have been horrified if/when our one-day-child starts talking about a non-existent daddy. Your post helped me to see it in a different light… It’s a good reminder to me that there isn’t always (or ever?) some deep meaning behind what kids say!

  4. We have 2 girls, one is 8 years and the other 14 months. The 8 year old has gone through this at various times and we talk about it. Most recently was a couple years ago when she watched Beezus and Ramona and really loved the movie so we watched it a lot. In it Ramona really has a strong bond with her Dad. As many families do, the oldest, Beezus, is much like her mother, very Type A, and excels at school. Ramona is the middle child and very imaginative like her father, causing more trouble at school. The Dad in the movie is great and my older daughter one day told me that she wished she had a Dad like Ramona. I think she was about 6 at the time. Part of me hurt, but like you I thought about it more and felt better. In the movie Ramona also has an awesome Aunt and when I watch it I think how much I would have loved, and still would love, to have an Aunt like hers. But I’m not terribly upset and I don’t feel like my childhood was deeply lacking because of it. We talked about it more. I told her I understood. Ramona’s Dad is great and I love my Dad very much so I can understand why she would want to have that. I then asked about what kinds of things she thought she might do with her Dad if she had one. Then I let her know though that even if she had a Dad her relationship with him would have been different from anyone else’s relationship with their Dad. Just like her relationship with me and her other Mom is different. So no matter if her parents were both men or a man and a woman or the 2 Moms she has, her life will be different from everyone else’s. Every family is unique, even the ones that look alike. She seemed to get that. We ended with I’m sorry she misses that and that she can talk to us about it anytime.

    She also asks for more pets all the time even though we have 2 dogs and 3 cats and I agree, there will always be something she says she wants that someone else has and she doesn’t. Good luck!

  5. This is interesting, because my (now 3 year old) daughter began noticing this past summer when we were visiting my dad for 3 weeks that I would call him dad. She would ask “that’s your dad? But I thought it was grandpa!?”, and she would proceed to also call him dad and say that he was her daddy too. Since we were around all kinds of family during those 3 weeks, I tried on numerous occasions to explain to her the family tree, and how my grandpa is her great grandpa, my brother is her uncle, my sister is her auntie, etc… But I think it was still too confusing. She also has a really beloved little buddy from her old daycare who has two dads, and she understands this as a simple fact. Philippe has two dads abs I have two moms. Some families have only one, some have one of each, and some have two of one or the other. This phenomenon was very easy for her to grasp. Now, she’s still young enough to not quite understand conception in the traditional sense, though she has been to the fertility clinic several times with me over the couple years we were trying to conceive her sister. We’ll cross that birds & bees bridge when we get there.

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