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My Youngest Son Just Said His First Word And It Was Surprisingly Moving

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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:

Papa.

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.

nev schulman
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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.

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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.