I have a confession to make: I don’t know what my daughter’s first word was.
I mean, the first recognisable thing that she came out with was ‘dada’, like most babies. But she used it indiscriminately at first, so it didn’t really count. Everything was dada. Me. The cat. That green plastic triangle she used to be obsessed with. It was just a sound, basically.
Then there were all the almost-words, the things that could have been words if you used some imagination. ‘Dat’ might have been ‘that’, and ‘uh’ might have been ‘up’, but only because I really wanted them to be. I have no idea when those almost-words started to turn into real ones.
But I know what her first sentence was, for sure. She said it last week when we were in Berlin just after we’d finished dinner.
“Dada is silly!”
I’ve written before about how the Popple doesn’t appreciate my sense of humour. This confirmed it.
“Dada IS silly,” I said. “But Mama is silly too.”
“Dada is silly!” she yelled. Then she repeated it about 100 times, just to make sure I got the point.
But here’s the thing – I AM silly. Or at least I try to be. I do stupid dances. I sing Frozen lyrics in a weird voice. I pull a great ‘Are you serious?’ face that the Popple thinks is pretty genius. And yet Dada, with his fart noises and toddler-throwing abilities, is the top comedian of the house.
Maybe the Popple senses how hard I’m trying, and that’s part of the problem. Silliness comes naturally to her father, like it seems to for a lot of dads. After all, the ‘dad joke’ is a thing. The ‘mum joke’ isn’t.
It’s not that mothers are less funny. In fact, we’re pretty great at seeing the humourous side of parenting. Most of us find the funny pretty quicky during those newborn months. When your baby does a poo all over themselves (and you) five minutes before you’re about to leave the house for the first time in two days, you can either curl up into a smelly ball and weep, or make a crack about how this motherhood s**t just got real. Most of us choose the latter, because we’re awesome like that.
So mums are funny, but perhaps we’re less ridiculous that dads. And children love ridiculousness. They like pratfalls, armpit farts and jokes like this:
What do you call a fish with no eyes?
What did the ocean say to the shore?
Nothing, it just waved.
The Popple knows that Dada is silly, but she’s not sure what Mama is yet. She was babbling all about me after dinner the other night, but it was hard to tell what she was saying. Adrian and I took turns trying to interpret.
The Popple continued to yell her toddler nonsense about me until we eventually gave up trying to work it out.
“Yes,” I said. “Mama is.” Because mamas are whatever their kids need them to be.