"No, I'm Dad!"
One thing that David and I hadn’t discussed even though we talked about having children starting on our first date was, what would our children call us? One night, we were watching a documentary about a two-dad family and one of the gentleman said he was Daddy-Papa. We heard that, looked at each other, looked back at the television, looked back at each other, and both exclaimed simultaneously, “I’m gonna be dad!”
“No, I’m going to be dad!”
“What?! I want to be dad.” David said. “I’ve always pictured myself being dad.”
I responded, “Well, that’s what I called my father and that’s what I’ve always wanted to be.” I never liked pop and father is way too formal, and nothing else felt right. So, it seemed at the moment that we had a dilemma.
We now started researching it informally, asking other gay men, mostly without children, what they thought children should call each of their two dads. They pretty much suggested what we had already thought of, one could be pop, one could be dad, one could be father. Some of our Latino friends suggested that one could be papi and one could be dad. Although I like papi as compared to pop, being that we weren’t Latino, I thought it would seem a little bit odd. So we kept checking. Still the same thing – suggestions were: dad, father, pop, pop, father, dad, not very many daddy papas, but also no clear solution.
Then we made friends with another two-dad family where one of them was dad, and one was daddy. Our immediate reaction was, “Isn’t that confusing. You both have the same name.” Then being schooled by them, they explained, no dad is actually a one-syllable word, and daddy is a two-syllable word, just like if you meet two men named Tom and Tommy, you can distinguish between the two, right?
Hmmm. They had a point, but it still felt like it was pretty much the same name and we weren’t really satisfied. I think because ultimately, we still both wanted to be, well, both, right? Aren’t dad and daddy the same thing? Doesn’t every dad and every daddy get to swap those two names if they want? So, if we agree to this then we would never be able to use the other derivatives of dad or daddy or just both names really? So, we just kept tabling the conversation.
Fast forward to Kekoa being born and us really not knowing who’s going to be what. I started trying to execute my plan for myself and began referring to myself as dad when talking. Then I would catch David doing the same, referring to himself as Kekoa’s dad. So, Kekoa was just hearing dad quite a bit at home. At the same time, everyone at daycare referred to male parents as daddy. So, he was also hearing daddy all the time there. They had no idea about the long conversations we’d been having for the last couple of years. So, we were both daddy at school, and both dad at home.¶
When Kekoa was about 1 ½ years-old he was hearing dad all the time and daddy all the time and it could be either one of us that’s being referred to. So, the poor kid had no idea what we were and how to distinguish us by name. I’m sure he was pretty confused. Suddenly, he was speaking and he would say, “Dad”, and, like all parents, we were ecstatic that he was starting to speak and in particular referred to us by name. It was wonderful! We were dad, or daddy, and it didn’t really matter that it was us, not me, not him, but us. Paul knew we were his dads and we were happy. A couple of months go by, and we suddenly realized Paul wasn’t calling us both dad, or us both daddy. He had made a distinction. He was mostly calling David “Daddy”, and he was mostly calling me “Dad” or “Dada”. After all this debate, discussions, and informal polling of how we would name ourselves as Kekoa’s parents, the decision ultimately didn’t fall to us. Rather, our little boy named us. And we thought it was pretty cool.