I will never forget the first time it happened.
It was around 7:00 PM on a sunny summer evening. I asked Natalie, then two years old, to call her Daddy inside for dinner. She went to the window, looked out toward the lake and yelled, “Coh-ee! Dinner ready!”
It was as startling as it was funny. Up to that point, she had never called us anything but Mommy and Daddy. We didn’t even know she knew our real names.
But in hindsight, it made sense. Natalie had listened to us call each other Kelly and Corey. She called her baby brother Connor. Why not venture into the adult world of names and call Daddy what everyone else called him?
I was reminded of that episode last week when my current two-year-old, Teyla, started to issue requests to “Keddy.” I took me a few minutes to figure out what she was saying (I have an infant; that’s my excuse), but when I did, I laughed and said, “I’m not Kelly. I’m Mommy.”
“No,” she furrowed her tiny eyebrows at me, hands on her hips. “You Keddy.”
Since then, it’s become a daily routine. She calls me Mommy or Momma most of the time. Then, suddenly, she whips out the new skills and says, “I Te-ya. You Keddy.”
“Kelly is my name,” I counter, “but you call me Mommy.”
“No Mommy. Keddy.” She says firmly and walks away.
It’s an odd thing, now that I think about it. Only parents and grandparents are offered these tender titles that bespeak their life role. We don’t call our siblings Brother and Sister (unless we want to annoy them), and no one outside of rural Kentucky says Cousin John or Cousin Julie.
I don’t care if my kids occasionally call me Kelly (or Keddy), because I know it’s just their way of reaffirming their place in the world.
As long as they always go back to calling me Mommy. Because as much as I like the name Kelly, the title of Mommy is sweeter still.
Mommy, er, Kelly blogs at Love Well.