PARENTS

Toddler Tales: Mum's The Word

20/03/2012 15:00 | Updated 22 May 2015
Diana, star of Toddler Tales on Parentdish.co.ukMummy's girl?

I've been feeling rather smug lately. Diana, having mastered the word "Ma" several weeks ago, has since started saying "Mama," "Mummy," and even "Mommy" (my American influence still, occasionally, prevails).

D says these words a lot, so much, in fact, that I thought D might be entering a particularly lovely phase of mummy worship.

Until D's father turned to me this weekend and said: "You know, I don't think Diana actually knows what "Mama" means. I think she just uses that word anytime she wants someone to do her bidding for her."

Note to Diana's Daddy: These are not the words a mother wants or needs to hear.

Especially not on Mother's Day.

Particularly not when he has a point.

Diana – unquestionably – knows me, and she knows me as "Momma."

However, that doesn't stop her employing the word for about a hundred different uses.

Whenever D needs help with something, she will shout "Mama."

Hunger pangs? "Mummy, mommy, mummy, mommy."

If she needs to reach something (usually a forbidden object), it's "MAMA!"

And when she does a poo, she will first point to her bottom, and say: "Butt" (I'm secretly rather thrilled that she can say this word and still doesn't know more typical toddler words like "juice" or "cat") before alerting whoever is present that the poo needs changing, with the magic word, "Ma."

So D's use of the various forms of the word for mother definitely have multiple meanings, mostly – as D's daddy rightly pointed out – to do with the series of servile tasks I perform for her on a daily basis.

"Mama," roughly translated, means "Help, now, clean, feed, comfort, wash, give me, love you, mother," all at the same time.

D also uses the term "Mama" to describe objects associated with me: my handbag, my hair brush, my scarf. Although, rather swiftly, those items cease to be called "Mummy" and are renamed D's other favourite word: "Mine!"

Now, D knows the difference between Mama and Dada and in our house, Dada is still the rock god to D's besotted groupie. When she says the word "Daddy!" (or "Dada!"), it's always uttered as an excited, breathless exclamation, and is still accompanied by bouncing, foot stomping and/or glass-breaking squeals of delight.

But one day the other week, in a strange turn of events, Diana started trailing Dada around the house (actually rather typical), tugging at his sleeve and asking him to do things for her by repeating, "Mama, mama, mama" (that's the weird bit).

"I'm 'Dada,'" he explained. "Daddy. Dada."

"Momma, mummy, ma!" she screamed back at him, still tugging at his shirt.

Crestfallen, D's father, who assumed he was firmly on the pedestal of hero worship for the rest of time (which, to be honest, he still is), then turned to me and accused me of spending my day teaching D to forget the word "Daddy" and programme our child to say "Mama" on repeat instead.

Naturally. Because running after a toddler, shuffling her to various playdates and classes and trying to juggle house work and real work in the spare minutes that she's sleeping (while trying not to lose my mind), obviously gives me plenty of time to brainwash my child against her father.

Please. I love how much D loves her Dad, and she has every reason to be obsessed with him: He's a great dad, he loves her more than anything and he enjoys spending every minute he can with her (even if it's to teach her random cricket techniques).

Do I feel threatened? Nah. The hundred meanings of "Mama" say it all.

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