I’ve recently undergone a name change. I didn’t have to fill out any forms, and my driver’s license hasn’t changed, but legal forms hardly represent the reality of day to day life anyway. This change has only taken effect at home, but it’s a pretty striking one nonetheless—I’ve lost 40% of my old name.
Somewhere in the last three or four months, I stopped being “Daddy” and became simply “Dad.”
It was a gentle transition. I would hear the occasional “Dad” and wonder, “Did I hear right? Ah, wait, now she called me ‘Daddy’ again. I must have heard wrong.” Gradually the ratio shifted, until now I’m only “Daddy” when my kids really, really want something. Luckily for me, the credit card is still in Daddy’s name.
I wouldn’t dream of trying to stop this change, anyway. My kids are thirteen. Past a certain age, who calls their parents “Mommy” and “Daddy” anymore?
Still, being a Daddy was nice. There’s a lot more affection carried in that word than in the short form. It’s amazing how sometimes you can hear an eyeroll in “Da-ad.” Nobody but Sylvia Plath could make “Daddy” sound like an epithet.
Being “Dad” now makes me conscious of how, in five to ten years, give or take, my kids will be grown-ups. Equals, more or less, and looking back and judging the job I’ve done. I hope they’re more lenient judges than I was with my parents.
“Daddy” doesn’t have to worry about being judged. “Daddy” is a god, who knows everything and can do no wrong. “Dad” is much more fallible, so I guess it’s time to step up my game.
Ah well, it was good while it lasted.
At the risk of being sappy, this transition has me remembering an old Harry Chapin song: