Daddies, Daddies, Everywhere! by Jamie Levine
Our first stop on Saturday mornings is the bagel store. Every week, without fail, we're there at 6 a.m. to grab "our table." While Jayda works on a mini-bagel with cream cheese, and the staff (who know us well), and the customers (who dote on Jayda), keep her attention, I sip a cup of coffee, and sit patiently for an hour before we go food shopping at 7 a.m. when the supermarket opens.
Jayda is a true "people person" and loves to watch and engage everyone from teenagers to senior citizens. She's also a big flirt. And from a very early age I realized that my daughter LOVES men. As a baby, she'd coo at the busboys when we went to the diner, and bat her eyelashes at our pediatrician during her check ups. When she started her gymnastics class at 18 months, she almost immediately threw herself into the lap of our attractive male instructor. And whenever one of our older male neighbors wanders down the street, she stops everything she's doing and races over to him for a hug.
I've always joked that Jayda is going to introduce me to my future husband. With her big, blue eyes, Shirley Temple curls, and charismatic personality, she really is a man-magnet. However, because all of the men she sees at daycare picking up their children are called "daddies" by her teachers, she's been trained to think that all men are "daddies”—from pimple-faced teenagers to old, wrinkled seniors. Thus, whenever a new male customer enters our bagel store on Saturday mornings, Jayda becomes delighted and yells, "A daddy!" or worse, "Daddy's here!"Sometimes I murmur back to her, "Well, maybe he's a daddy..."
Sometimes I even catch a smirking man's eye and ask him out loud, "Are you a daddy?" just to acknowledge Jayda's observation. Fortunately, I've been assured by several of my married friends that many children call men "daddies" and women "mommies" at this age. But I suspect that single mothers are more sensitive to their children’s use of this word. And, of course, I can’t help but wonder sometimes if Jayda wishes one of those daddies she’s greeting would come home with us.
Then, there are the times Jayda reaches into my pocketbook and I ask her what she’s looking for. “A daddy,” she replies—as she tries to find my wallet. What she really wants is a dollar bill to put in her piggy bank. A piece of paper with George Washington’s face—or a “daddy”—on it. And I realize that for Jayda, “daddy” is just a word. For now.