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I’d forgotten what it’s like to hear your child say their first word. We have a 5-year-old and he’s been talking for a very long time. His younger brother just turned 7 months old and tonight he said his first word:
It wasn’t dad or daddy. It was papa. I’d been saying that to him for the past couple of days because I thought the P sound might be easier than the D sound. Looks like that paid off!
Here’s how it happened: I was sitting at my desk working (the beauty of working from home is to catch moments like this) and I heard him babbling in the other room. It sounded like he was trying to say something.
I signaled to my wife (who works at home, right next to me in our office) to take her headphones off. I told her he was babbling and it was adorable. We went into the kitchen where our son’s caregiver was feeding him.
He said what sounded like “papa” and my heart skipped a beat. I said it back to him, and he repeated it a few times. It sounded partially like “baba” and sometimes it was just his lips mouthing the words.
Then … THEN … He reached his hand out and touched my face and said papa. At that moment I felt such immense joy and excitement — my baby boy is learning to say words!
It wasn’t dad or daddy. It was papa.
There was a twinge of “oh no…it’s all changing and he’ll never go back to just being an innocent non-speaking baby,” but for the most part it was a happy moment.
What makes it even more special that he said “papa” and not “dada” is that his middle name is my (recently deceased) step-dad’s last name. And where I’m from, the word for grandfather is pépére (sounds like pip-air). I know, it’s not the same word. But a little boy who carries his grandfather’s name said a word that sounds like our French word for grandfather. Just an extra level of sweetness.
I don’t know what comes next, but I’m sure there’s more where “papa” came from. It’s true what they say (and “they” might just be my wife and me):
The days drag on and feel like they’ll never end, but the months and years fly by.
Nick Simard is happily married and the proud father of 3 boys. His writing has appeared on The Huffington Post, and he blogs regularly atdudemesticated.com.