Okay. This is it. Houston, the toddler is asking The Question.
My almost-three-year-old and I were kicking back on the beanbag: Bambi was in the DVD player, and we had a weekend full of mom-ignoring-all-the-stuff-she-has-to-do to get to. I was debating at first whether Bambi would be a good movie to watch with my son — how would he deal with the (SPOILER) gun shot? — but I figured, I’d be around if he needed any hugs or questions answered.
I was so worried about the meadow scene and imagining all sorts of age-appropriate ways I could explain what happened to Bambi’s mom that the question I didn’t prepare for was:
“Mommy, who’s that?”
Bambi’s mom had died, and now Bambi was standing alongside The Great Prince of the Forest.
“That’s Bambi’s dad.”
It was then I realized he had never before said the word “dad.” As far as he’s concerned, it’s a recent addition to an exponentially expanding vocabulary that had not once encountered it. In our household, my dad is the only dad around, and even then my kid (and everyone, in my kid’s presence) calls him “popop.” My dad isn’t my dad; my dad is his popop.
He hasn’t asked any follow-up questions yet, but he’s getting there, I can feel it.
So, yes, my son. That’s Bambi’s dad. A dad is kind of like a mom, except he’s a boy. Remember we talked about the differences between girls and boys?
Some kids have a mommy and a daddy. Some have just a mommy, some have just a daddy. Some have two mommies, some have two daddies, some have two mommies and a daddy, some have two daddies and a mommy. There’s lotsa different kinds of families! And they come in lotsa different shapes and sizes.
And you, my baby: you have Mommy, and Manang, and Manong, and Momom, and Popop. And that’s not even counting all your godparents and great-grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins and mommy’s cousins! Everyone loves you supermuch — and not just because you’re unbelievably cute, okay. You are a sweetheart who has and deserves all the love in the world.
And if one day someone comes along and wants to pour even more love into an overflowing cup? This is where you’re lucky, kiddo, because you get to do something most kids don’t get the chance to: help choose your family! And I think that’s pretty cool.
But not as cool as you are. Of course.
This story is a chapter from my upcoming book, "I Love You." "I Love Chicken Nuggets." & Other Tales of Motherhood (or the #ChickenNuggetProject for short!) It's available at a special pre-order price until November 30, 2016. Visit the page here for more!