About a year and a half ago Jodie asked me what I wanted to be called by our then gestating daughter. I hadn’t even considered it. I had always called my father “Dad.” It hadn’t even really occurred to me that there were other options. Of course I knew there were other options. I just had never even thought that I might diverge from how I was brought up. In a fit of whimsy I mused that it might be entertaining to use something retro, even bordering on archaic, like “Pop.” I can’t imagine any circumstance since the days of Dennis the Menace, Leave it to Beaver or Father Knows Best (and honestly I don’t even know if those are good examples) where I know of that that appellate was used without a sarcastic level of irony.
I largely forgot about it for months – until December arrived – when Jodie started using it at least as much as she used “Dad.”
Yesterday evening just before sitting down to dinner Jodie asked December (as she often does) “who is that?” while pointing at me. Typically the best responses we get are either a big smile or, if she vocalizes, it’s with the “Bap!” with which she refers to almost everything – though her vocabulary of nonsense words has been expanding around the foundation of “Bap!” Last night she said, barely above a whisper, “Pop.” It was tentative but clear, as though she were trying it out for the first time... which presumably she was – though perhaps she’d been practicing when we weren’t around (like that ever happens). Both Jodie and I heard it – we were both pretty certain. We both reacted with surprised and encouraging yelp. Jodie prompted her again, “who is that?” After a moment, she confidently and unambiguously declared “Pop!”
Oh how the heart melts in moments like this.