January 03, 2009

Two Conversational Snippets

Snippet the first:

After a safety scissor cutting fest today, T asked Puppy to clean up by stacking the papers on a table. Puppy told him, "You cannot stack paper! You can only pile it on tables."

I forget that he's still working on basic vocabulary sometimes.

Snippet the second:

The night before we were supposed to have our visit with Puppy's first dad last week, we were going over our schedule with Puppy. Giving him a heads up for all that was going on the next day, that sort of thing. We were seeing so many different people every day and knowing what to expect gave him a little sense of control. So we told him that Ray was coming over in the morning to play and have lunch with us.

"Ray?" he said. "My daddy?"

Now, Puppy usually calls Ray by his first name. Sometimes he talks about his "birth daddy" (T is his "daddy daddy").* This is the first time I can remember him just referring to him just as daddy.

I tell you this not because it was that big of a deal. T confirmed that it was Ray, his daddy, who was coming over and the conversation went on from them. But something I read online tonight made me think of it.

Often we adoptive parents put a lot of thought and worry into what names we should use for our kids' first parents. First names or special nicknames? Birth dad or first dad? Put Mama before the name or no? There is no one right answer, and sometimes a lot of emotion is tied up in the choices. I imagine that's true on the first parents' side as well.

But that moment with Puppy reminded me that kids often try on different ideas through the language they use. And there is certainly a lot to think through in being a kid who was adopted. In my mind, it's such a simple, yet important, thing to give them the emotional space to explore those ideas. No matter what it may stir up for us.

* He's only used this construction to talk about dads; he doesn't talk about birth mommy and mommy mommy. Not sure why, but I think it may have something to do with the different ways his first parents interact with him.

10 comments:

susan said...

Curious Girl experiments with names, too. Sometimes, I think she's trying to figure something out for herself, and sometimes she's wondering what my reaction will be. Or a little bit of both. I figure that our kids will be retelling their own stories throughout their lives, so having as much language at their disposal is important. And definitely important to let them take the lead with what names they want to use.

Tammy said...

We have lots of experimentation around here and the key for us is the same, let them do it and don't put our issues as adoptive parents in the middle of it. Bug calls her first mom by her first name, or Mom or she's said to her friends 'I have another mom'. And now, her bio sister has been placed in an adoptive home and so there is that to figure out as her sister had only one mom (their mutual birth mom) for so long. I would think it would be confusing but Bug seems to see it all crystal clear... I just have to keep up with her as she thinks it through. I am glad we started out using their other mom's first names as a foundation (it was at the request of their other moms) but I'm tickled that both kiddos are catching on to the importance of their first moms (look, I don't even use the same name!!!) even though they are not at this moment active in our lives.

luna said...

really interesting how you can and must let them lead on this one, putting our own issues and labels aside. I can see how finding the "right" names isn't always up to us...

Lisa said...

You know you put "Ray" instead of R. Just wondering if you slipped or if you're going to full first names now.

:)

Spring said...

My newest daughter refers to her first mother by her full name and I've been trying (gently) to discourage that. First mother passed away many years ago, but is still remembered and loved. I'd much rather my daughter tell her truth.

heather said...

@Lisa - Thanks for the heads-up. I got tired of the initials, so I'm tossing them. 'Ray' is still a fake name. :)

Lisa said...

Heather - I looked at other posts and saw you were using names in them too. You're right, it does make them feel more like real people who are part of your life -- which they are! :)

DrSpouse said...

Very interesting - thanks for your comment too!

becky said...

From the other side of the coin... as an adoptee, I always used 'birthmom' as a kid (and "mom mom" for my adopted mom), but since being reunited, I now call her by first name. At one point, we had a discussion, of how to introduce each other to others in our lives, and decided on 'god mother', because that is very much the role she plays in my life. Most people already know our situation, and we look so much alike, it's fairly obvious, but I like the "god mother" definition, because I feel it more clearly shows how she has impacted my life and continues to do so through her guidance....

JJandFive said...

Good. Thanks for this post.

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