She of a Hundred Fathers

We are having an odd little problem with the kid. One thing we have learned about two-year-olds is that they often misinterpret or misunderstand stuff. I mean, she is learning about the world around her at lightning pace so you have to cut her a little slack, right? We can live with the fact that she calls potatoes "botatoes" and volcanoes "bolcanoes." (Don't ask me why she has the constant need to talk about bolcanoes, but she does.) But what we are having a harder time handling is the fact that she calls strangers "Mommy" and "Daddy." Somewhere along the way she seems to have decided that all adults can be called by these general titles. Women "of a certain age" get called Grandma.

She just seems to have weird ideas in her head. If you are wearing a dress or skirt, you are a princess. If you have something on your head, it's your birthday. If you are an adult male, you are Daddy. Convincing A otherwise is proving to be quite a challenge. Now, she knows that all these strangers are not her parents. She calls us Mama and Dada. But the strangers don't know that. The other day at Toys R Us we were exchanging a DVD. She handed the new DVD to the store manager who was handling our exchange. "Here you go, Daddy!" she said cheerfully. This type of exchange (which is becoming painfully common in our daily lives) is typically followed by some nervous smiles/laughter/confusion. Sometimes I try to explain and other times I just pretend I didn't hear her.

Explaining familial relationships is another challenge. When we visited my parents last month, I tried to explain to A that her Granddaddy is my Dad. She got mad and insisted that no, he's HER father. Obviously she is far too young to understand how creepy and disturbing that particular scenario would be.

For now I guess she will continue to call strangers by awkwardly intimate titles and her actual parents will just pray that this phase is mercifully short. Of course, there are days when her toddler behavior is such that for just a moment, I am tempted to hand her over to the next person she dubs Daddy and offer to send child support.


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