Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Failed Baba Experiment

So, BioMom and I's meager attempt to distinguish ourself to the kids in a manner other than the confusing (to us) "Mama" and "Mommy" seems to have failed miserably.

We had decided to use the monikers "Baba" (for me) and "Mama" (for her).

I've discussed the "name game" on this blog quite a lot (see The Big Questions page for background reading) and it has been a fairly serious issue at our household since Big came along and somewhat of an issue prior to that. Since I met Seven when she was 18 months old, we were careful not to force anything on her and as my inaugural post discusses, I was glad to be called anything by her -- just happy to be welcomed into the family.

Since that time, I have evolved into a semi-stay-at-home-mom (more on that and on the new title of the blog to come) and, as a result, spend more time at home with both kids than does BioMom. Seven, a few years back, started calling me "Mom" on average more than BioMom--to BioMom's sometimes dissapointment, sometimes relief as "MOM!" is usually followed by some sort of need or request.

Since Big, we've made an effort to say "Mama" and "Baba" on a regular basis. And since he's become more aware of the world, we often ask him where people are and get a little chubby finger point as a response as in "Where's Mama/Baba?" (point to her/me), or "Where's sissy?" (point to her) etc.

The problem is that Seven just doesn't use the term Baba. And, frankly, neither does the rest of the world.

Only in the last two weeks has Big really adopted the term "Mama." And, like any other skill, once learned, he is using it seemingly non-stop and with increasing intensity, as in:

"Mama. . . . MaaaaMa!. . . "MAAAAAAAAAA-MA!!!!"

He refuses to say "Baba" out loud.

I suspect this is due to one of possibly two explanations:

1.The Imitator: he aspires to be to be "all-things-Big-Sister-is"
2. The Economist's Son: he's being efficient and can get two for the price of one as we both respond.

Maybe he just uses it as a catch all, like his ASL sign for "more". To him, maybe "Mama" stands for the following: 'I need' or 'I want' or 'Get me outta this freakin' crib already!!'


Polly said...

Needless to say I'm biting my nails over here. Everyone in my extended family calls me Baba, but of course its relevance (and stickiness!) to my kids is what matters most.

Our oldest girlie is about to start preschool in a few weeks, and there she'll be explaining her family to new people for the first time en masse. There's just one other kid with two moms, better than none, but not as good as a dozen.

I've been Baba since jump to her. But we really don't know the impact of the dominant culture on her, or the temptations of conforming to the prevailing familial norm.


giddings said...

Hey Polly --
Good luck with preschool. Our experience there (as it is so far in primary school) is that the kids tend to be really accepting and forgiving.

I think it helps a lot to have been Baba from the get-go, but my only piece of advice (and really, I think this is probably the best parenting advice ever, in nearly any situation... Maybe I even learned it from you?!?) is that it takes two to hold up a wall. That is to say that you won't catch me correcting him!

Renee said...

Hello! As a future Baba, I am hoping that mere repitition will "make it so" (not unlike how several people in my office are now stumbling over the word "inter-web" with surprise as though against their own wishes.) Good luck!

giddings said...

Thanks Renee! and welcome to Babadom! We'll definitely keep trying... But I have definitely learned that kids (and I don't think just ours) respond with equal-and-opposite force, so I won't push it too much.

thistles said...

The Niblet is two and she tries out new ways of calling us on a daily basis. Sometimes its Mama, sometimes its Mommy, sometimes its Mom. Just recently she is trying on calling me her version of my real name (Christine) which from her lips sounds like Kuh-wis-teen.

So, who knows? Maybe it will catch on with Big?