I’ve a sneaky confession to make.
I’m not keen on babies.
We’re running a competition over on Tots100 this month where you can win £500 by sharing your best baby photo, and I’ve been looking at all the entries. Intellectually, I can grasp that the whole big headed, wide-eyed thing is supposed to be cute, but it doesn’t push my “aawww” button the way a kitten might. Kittens are unequivocally cute. Ditto for puppies. Small bush babies, even. But human babies? Not so much.
Don’t get me wrong. I loved Flea as a baby. Obviously. But I didn’t find Flea especially cute or interesting until she became a toddler – once children can talk and express their personality, they’re much more appealing to me than any small squawking creature that smells faintly of sour milk.
The growing up process doesn’t make me especially sad, then. I love watching Flea reach each new stage of childhood, becoming a bit more independent and confident with each passing season. At seven, she’s a fascinating mixture of independence and neediness, little girl and big kid, depending on the setting, and who might be watching.
I love seeing the person she’s becoming – smart and funny, and unfailingly kind – she disapproved whole-heartedly last night when I tried to nickname one of her particularly obnoxious classmates “The Horrible Kid”, telling me, “Just because she’s unkind doesn’t mean we can’t like her. Why don’t we call her The Okay Kid?”
Lately, Flea’s been trying out calling me “Mum” instead of Mummy and I must confess, I love the way she does it – always with a moment’s hesitation, as though she’s trying out how the word sounds coming out of her mouth. And this weekend, she told her Dad that from now on, she wanted to call him Dad, not Daddy.
Flea’s Dad is a baby person. Over-protective. He hovers next to Flea always ready to hold her hand or catch her – even while she’s impatiently trying to shrug him off.
It’s a typical father-daughter thing, I think, and I think young girls should have protective, adoring Dads.
But he’s crushed at the idea of being called Dad. He asked Flea not to do it. But she’s insistent. He’s Dad.
Which makes me wonder – what do your kids call you? When did they transition from Mummy to Mum – or did they?