When I was born, I was named Benjamin, and through all my years (a little over 23) it has always been Benjamin or a version of it. I’ve had Ben, Benny, Ben-ha-meen, Benny and the Jets, Benji (of which many a person has bled for referring to me as such), Bean, Big Ben, Bender, etc. I’ve also had many nicknames, but I won’t mention those for fear of warrants for my arrest that may or may not be raised in particular States due to the vulgar and inappropriate nature.
I have had many names, even “pen names” like the one I currently use, B.K. Mullen, B.K., and a few others that make less sense like Cosmic Foole. But these names are now all irrelevant. Call me what you will, there is only one name that matters any more. All my life has built me up to be able to bear this name on my psychological shoulders, and I will bear this weight for the rest of my life. But it is not a weight that is uneven or uncomfortable, although some days it may be. Its one that I take with happiness and pride, and I look forward to fulfilling the responsibility brought unto me by it.
My name is Dad.
To be fair, it is currently “dadadadadadadadada” due to she is 6 ½ months old and hasn’t firmly grasped the English language. She says it, although sometimes I don’t think she actually has definition to it. It’s more than likely just part of her babble. But the language she has is beautiful, and it’s hard to describe.She barely speaks a word of English, yet she speaks a language we all know. We all understand it, and we can rarely write it down. It’s in our every day lives but we barely pay attention sometimes. She speaks in the language of raspberries and coos. Her dialect is wailing at the top of her lungs and giggling like a fool. I hang on to every word, and cherish every time I hear her voice.
The other day was one of those days I had to admit a small portion of failure as a parent. It was one of those moments when you turn your back for just a minute and something happens. But the result of this happening was quite hilarious and even when I’m old and possibly suffer from Alzheimer’s, I feel this is one that I won’t forget.
We have a “Pack-and-Play” that we received on our baby shower and its quite nice. Its size is just right, being that it is large enough for her to play in till she’s 3 or 4, has four walls, and doesn’t take up much space in the living room. We’ve been using it for other things, such as storage, but that’s for another post coming soon. Nowadays we have been using it for exactly its purpose now that Emma is sitting up pretty well on her own. We sit her in there with the “Boppy Pillow” behind her (she still takes a tumble now and then) and set her up with what are currently her favorite toys. She is quite happy in this environment.
The following event happened in a matter of 10 seconds or less.
So I set her down, “Boppy Pillow” and all so that I could tidy up the living room a bit. So many baby toys, so little space. So I turn around and pick up the saucer, which at that point was 2 feet or so away from the play pen. I lift it, I swing it over to the other side of the room, and I hear the noise that a lot of new parents fear. I hear a “wump”, or a “thump” or whatever you want to call it. No matter what you name it, it is the universal sound of a little one hitting the floor. Needless to say, she is less than 30inches long, including legs, and she was sitting on her butt, so it wasn’t a far fall. But it sounded like it. The next sound, after the “wump” is what really hit me.
No crying, no fussing, nor any screaming. In a half muffled little voice, starting exactly as the “wump” happened, I hear the best and most worrying sound. My little girl, in a very serious tone, saying one word over and over in the hopes that it would fix her situation.
Unending, serious, calm, yet with a hint of emergency.
It is a split second after the “wump/dadada” moment that I turn and see my beautiful little girl face down in her play pen spread out like a starfish that had just washed up on the beach. The “Boppy Pillow” was still behind her and toys spread in front of it, however just out of reach of her left hand is one of her favorite “blocks” that she loves to chew on. She had been reaching to get it, and ended up in a difficult situation. And in that moment of helplessness and difficulty, she called out what seems to me as the one word that will save her, instead of the alternative to crying. She said “dada”.
She may not know what it means yet, and she may not have meant to call me specifically. But she said my name, and I came to her rescue. I laughed my face off, and immediately told my wife the whole thing upon her return home from work. It was one of the silliest, most wonderful moments in my life.
My wife and I don’t ever get jealous when in a random moment, Emma wants to be held by one parent in particular. It is a joy whenever a moment happens, as it did last night, when my little girl was fussy and pissed as she laid on my wife’s chest, until I entered the room. Emma looked up at me and stopped crying, gazed at me for a moment, and started smiling. She wanted to be held by “Dada”. It’s happened the other way around as well, when my daughter will be miserable all day until the moment my wife comes home, and all of a sudden everything is right with the world.
Call me what you will, whether it be good or ill. Of all the names I’ve ever had, the only one that matters is when I am called “Dad”.