Wouldn’t you know it?

After a weekend of sheer terror, Ella metamorphosed into a little angel the past two days.

It’s simply amazing. Freakishly amazing. And the weird part … even though I’m tougher on her than Trish, she’s been the nicest to me. She even wanted me, not her mom, to read her bedtime stories tonight. It’s me she’s asked for the past couple of mornings when she ambles into our bedroom.

I was off from work yesterday and today, so we spent a lot of time together. It was … fun! There were very few arguments, no — yes, NO, record the date! — tantrums, and I didn’t have to repeat myself like Bill Cosby: Come here. Come here! Come! Here! Come come come come come come come! Here here here here here here here here here!

It was … pleasant.

Yes, I’m in shock.

But you know the coolest thing she’s doing now? She calls me “Dad.” She calls us Mom and Dad (when she’s not calling us “guys”).

It’s, “Dad? What you doing, Dad?” and “I want to go with my Dad,” and “I want to watch a movie with my Dad.”

My heart melts. It’s so sweet. I want to say, “Did you hear that? She called me Dad. That’s me! I’m her Dad!” But that would eliminate anyone’s lingering doubts that I’m a cheesehead, so I’ve kept it to myself, until now.

This “Dad” business is especially curious to me because I grew up in Texas, which is kin to the South by geographic proximity and similar to the South in terms of breakfast foods, and also in the fact that many kids call their parents Daddy and Mama.

I was in high school before I called my mother Mom, or Mother.

It was college before I started calling my father Dad, and then mostly in public.

To use names other than Mama and Daddy (even though my parents were divorced) seemed not only disrespectful of them, but I felt like I would have disrespected generations of Southern tradition (although [another caveat] my father was born in Mexico to a Mexican and a Spaniard). None of my friends said “Dad” or “Mom.”

Maybe they should have.

I used to love Leave it to Beaver. The Cleavers were my surrogate family. I really admired the way the Beave called Ward “Dad,” and June, in those lovely pearls, was always “Mom.” It seemed … civilized, refined, sophisticated, cool.

But I didn’t hit a rebellious streak until high school, so I stuck to the old-world ways. When I did switch to Dad, I was shocked, because my dad actually liked it! His other six kids still, even though they’ve made him a grandfather and great-grandfather, use Daddy. But when he talks to me, and signs cards, etc., he refers to himself as Dad. It makes me feel like I occupy a special place in the pecking order. I’m the one with enough guts to call him Dad.

How did Ella know when, and how, to use Mom and Dad? Did we subliminally encourage it? I didn’t intentionally sway her one way or another. She does put on an air of maturity when the words roll out of her mouth. Maybe it’s part of playing grown-up.

It’s still Daddy and Mama, or Mommy, when the tears flow, and that’s just fine.

As long as she’s not acting like she’s just hatched from Lord of the Flies, I’ll be whatever she likes!

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