I'm pretty sure Sidamo's first English word was dada, and he mastered it in his first week with us. Very cute, sweet for Greg, blah blah blah. Surely mama would be close behind, no? No.
A month in, even spending every day all day with me, he is no closer to saying mama. I'm determined to remedy this, so the other day I was carrying him around in the Ergo as I made dinner, and I kept offering up, "Mama. Mama. Mama." To which he'd respond, "Dada! Dada! Dada!" This went on for about five minutes, and then I said, a little impatiently, "Mama!" He paused, like he was finally digesting the lesson, and I thought, "Here it is! He's actually going to say it!"
Again, I say, "Mama. Mama!"
He takes a deep breath and blurts out, "Papa!"
"Okay, joker," I think, "Go ahead and learn two names for Greg before learning even one for me. Hell, recite his social security number before you utter a single ma for all I care. I'm not going to take it personally." Of course, that doesn't mean I'm not going to keep trying.
Our lessons have continued, and so has this papa business. And here's what I've figured out: He's not spiting me by learning another name for Greg. He actually thinks I'm Papa! In fact, he calls me that with a fair level of consistency. And you know what? I answer. There are worse names, right? And surely it's a step up from anti (Amharic for, "Hey you!"—which is what he had been calling me and the dogs until Papa entered the vocabulary.)
What can I say? This little boy has got his papa wrapped.