the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Pointing out the obvious

One of Leta’s new favorite ways to demonstrate her outstanding retention is to identify everyone in the room. She’ll point her right index finger — the one she holds up to show how old she is — to each person around her and say, “Dat’s Mama. Dat’s Daddy.” And if there is someone among us whose name she hasn’t yet stored in her mental Rolodex she’ll get very quiet, slink over to me and whisper so that no one else can hear, “Dat is?” And the look of panic in her eyes says that I had better let her know quick because her reputation is on the line.

One afternoon last week we were having lunch with our babysitter when Leta started pointing to everyone. “Dat’s Kay-yee,” she said pointing to the babysitter, Katey, someone she only recently stopped referring to as Tiki. Katey says that most kids have a hard time with her name, and she’s even been called KeeKee by those related to her. That’s nothing when you consider that no kid can say Heather, and the closest any one of my young relatives came was NerNer. Aunt NerNer, Giant Alien Squid.

After she pointed to Mama and Daddy I asked her to point to Jon as an exercise in putting together the fact that Daddy is the same person as the one whose name Mama yells in a homicidal tone all day. She looked straight at him and said, “Der he is!” Then I asked her to point to Heather, and without any hesitation she stuck her finger in my direction and shouted, “Der he is!”

I think my new haircut may be confusing her.

Turns out I can get her to refer to me as a he on command, and we taped her doing it yesterday while we were all gathered on the bed, all of us including the animal living on Leta’s head. Right before the beginning of this clip Leta was being as harpy as an old woman trying to bargain down the price of a stick of gum, and to calm her down I flipped out the monitor on the side of the camera so that she could watch herself being taped. It worked, and you can see the exact moment she recognizes herself because her face lights up with a giddy grin you might see on a man presented with an ice cream cone of cleavage.

Flash video
Quicktime movie

  • Jac

    2006/06/13 at 8:06 am

    Heather for us was always “Header”.

  • Creatrix

    2006/06/13 at 8:13 am

    Laughing at Aunt Ner-Ner… keep the videos coming, Leta is aDORable.

  • katehopeeden

    2006/06/13 at 8:06 am

    My daughters couldn’t say my brother’s name (Noah) and started calling him DOH-AHH. Which I quickly manipulated that into DOH-DOH. My nine year old, who can certainly say “Noah” now still calls him Uncle Doh-Doh.
    Which is almost as cool as the fact that my very well endowed sister (Ruthie) was called “Aunt Boobie” for an entire three months by my then two year old.
    Every day was like Christmas.

  • monkey

    2006/06/13 at 7:38 am

    I still can’t get Connor to refer to me as anything. He knows I’m mama/mommy. But when we try to get him to say “Mama”, he laughs and says “DADA!” If I say “Mommy”, he says “Daddy”. And if I try to break it out (“MA MA”) he mocks us with the exact paced “DA DA”. But as long as he’s not saying “Hey Stupid” I think we’re good.

  • kim from germany

    2006/06/13 at 3:09 am

    she’s so adorable speaking english and all… 😉

  • Ms. Pants

    2006/06/13 at 5:20 am

    Honestly, I don’t know how the two of you aren’t just giant puddles of goo from the cuteness. That’s what cuteness does. It turns you to goo. Perhaps you’re just goo inside….

    Ooooh, I wonder what happens if someone squeezes you too hard….

    My neph referred to food as “NingaNinga” and drinks as “NingaDa” for almost a year. Totally freaked my brother out. So of course, we encouraged it. Much like we encouraged the other one who wanted to wear his mom’s shoes, carry around a purse and doll, and refused to answer unless we called him Alice.

    You can see why I’m now afraid to have children.

  • Charissa

    2006/06/12 at 8:47 pm

    My little boy points when my husband or I or the new baby farts and says “Mama (or daddy, or baby) Poop!” He also can’t say the letter “f” so when he wants food he points and says “Poo!” We walk by the food court here and he says “Eat hot poo! Play Nascar!” referring the the arcade game he loves.

    Kids can drive you nuts, but don’t moments like that just make parenthood priceless?

  • amelia

    2006/06/13 at 7:15 am

    My partner and I have a daughter. I am Mommy Amelia and my partner is Mommy Kristi. When our daughter was learning to talk I was called “mama mia.” The first time our daughter heard the ABBA song Mama Mia she ran to me excitedly shouting “Your song, your song!” She is now almost five and still thinks it is my song.

  • be OH be

    2006/06/13 at 6:43 am

    “ice cream cone of cleavage”

    that is a beautiful metaphor of sorts.

  • Akky

    2006/06/12 at 9:06 pm

    Hey hey, been planning to leave a comment for a billion years now. I have thought if two million and six things to say to you but have never had the motivation to make an account. Here I am! (Akky hears the roar of the crowd.. or, you know, the silence of the the readers who’ll skip over this).

    Leta is gorgeous. She seems like such a smart little cookie. Love all the vids you post. If I have children, I hope to raise them in much the way you and Jon seem to be raising Leta. Encourage them to learn, love them and let them see the funny or stupid side of a situation.

    I have managed to make this post more about me than it should’ve been but the point is that… you blog rocks my socks off and congrats on being such a rad mum.

  • Andreas Berg

    2006/06/13 at 1:05 am

    Yeah, she’s really lovely. Don’t worry about “he” or “she”, she will find out the difference maybe earlier that you want her to… 😉

  • TigerLambGirl

    2006/06/12 at 8:33 pm

    I got up this morning. Took my son to school.
    Got home. Sat down to check emails. Checked dooce for new posts. But, seeing as there weren’t any, I read this one again. This, of course, meant I saw the wee picture of Leta’s beautimous smile again.

    Really, Leta’s cuteness factor is enough to untie fallopian tubes. She’s so scrumptious! I’m SO broody! My husband will totally panic.

    Next tag line topic:
    Wreaking havoc on fallopian tubes.
    That’s it. From Sweaty Goat Balls to untying tubes.

  • Lena

    2006/06/12 at 6:43 pm

    I think you found your new tagline: NER NER – GIANT ALIEN SQUID.


  • blackbeltmama

    2006/06/12 at 6:47 pm

    That is the ONLY way I could ever videotape my daughter at that age. She still loves watching herself on video. It makes for some fun family nights.

  • wrensuicide

    2006/06/12 at 7:08 pm

    You guys are so adorable.

  • hey*jude

    2006/06/12 at 8:31 pm

    Ours was “THERE SHE ARE!” about ANYTHING… the little pirate in him, I guess. Speaking of pirates (Feathersword), now that he know the Wiggles, he’s even picked up an Austrailian accent. He’s sings/says “caah” instead of “car”. Funny little shits!

  • zitsmom

    2006/06/12 at 6:10 pm

    Our first son called me “HUH-Hee” (Honey) for about 2 years.He is 18 and it still makes me laugh to remember it…now he just grunts alot and calls me Bee-otch.All those sleepless nights and that is the thanks I get 🙂

  • Jill Asher

    2006/06/12 at 5:25 pm

    I was out to dinner tonight and my younger daughter pointed to a man across the restauant and screamed “Mommy, that man has no hair”. Oh, they are so honest at this age!

  • gorgeoux

    2006/06/12 at 3:23 pm

    I’d be very surprised to hear that Leta hasn’t been born with a sixth sense for all cameras in the world. If I ever give birth and my offspring hasn’t got it, s/he is going to be sent back immediately.

    There’s nothing wrong with KeeKee. My favorite 5 y.o. princess is called Kira and she could only call herself KeeKee until 4 or so. KeeKee rules! And NerNer? Depends on the sweet lips 😉

  • Nickki

    2006/06/12 at 3:33 pm

    Thats f-ing adorable.

  • Rita Arens

    2006/06/12 at 4:45 pm

    I have no idea what people did before they could allow their children to watch themselves on camera. The little angel wants to watch only herself, all the time. And you can always tell she’s watching herself by the way she checks out her inner gums. AWESOME. I’m raising Paris Hilton.

  • guinnevere

    2006/06/12 at 2:53 pm

    oh man the unruly hair is too cute.

  • dre

    2006/06/12 at 2:57 pm

    My name is Aundrea (pronounced ON-dre-uh), but to my cousins, ages 6 & 4, I’m simply “Ya-Ya”. Sometimes I even refer to myself as such, “Do you want to come over to Ya-Ya’s this Saturday?”

    On a semi-related note, I have 2 horrifying stories of mistaken gender:

    1) When I was 19 I had very short hair, (I thought it was adorable) I lived in Australia, and worked in a souvenir shop. I was outside the shop one day hanging up clothes when a woman came up to me and asked, “Excuse me. Are you the woman, er the man, from the shop? I’m sorry, what are you??” I could’ve died. I mean I actually had on a floral skirt!

    2) Not long after horrifying-mistaken-gender-story #1, my sister and I were standing in line at a local clothing store. The saleswoman asked, “Who’s next?” This elderly lady replied, pointing to me, “He is, or she is, whatever. You can’t tell these days.”


  • KaraMia

    2006/06/12 at 2:41 pm

    Wait till she starts asking if that man with the big belly is pregnant…ha, you have so much fun in store.
    The confusion is just

  • TiffyWiffyPooPooWanna

    2006/06/12 at 2:15 pm

    My kid has insisted on both of his parents “Daddy”, no matter how many times I try to teach him that I am “Mommy”. It’s fine, though, because now I just call him “Corky”….

  • AmyFrances

    2006/06/12 at 2:16 pm

    She’s so fucking cute, that “Yeeeeeeeta.”

  • Jenny

    2006/06/12 at 2:37 pm

    I love her teeth. What a smile. (My stupid exclamation point is broken, which is why this looks so bland.)

  • Fireflower

    2006/06/12 at 2:40 pm

    adorable, as always. You’re setting the bar of cuteness higher every day! How are we supposed to compete with that?

  • salmonday

    2006/06/12 at 1:22 pm

    I like how, when Leta is identifying herself and her hand disappears off the screen, another hand comes in to fix her hair, like she’s Miss Elastic Arms.

  • J_Bo

    2006/06/12 at 2:02 pm

    Your bedroom is the same color as mine!

    My daughter referred to everyone as a ‘he’ when she was first learning pronouns, so it’s probably got nothing to do with your haircut. She’s almost nine and still has problems with the ‘sh’ sound! And she still calls me Daddy, too. Whatever!

  • Kristine

    2006/06/12 at 2:10 pm

    Kara is 13 and she still calls me Dad.

  • Kelly

    2006/06/12 at 1:12 pm

    My daughter referred to my brother George as “Jew” for the first few years of her life. He had to tell her repeatedly that he was in fact Cathlolic.

    Other names:
    Josh = Dos (she was already computer literate apparently)
    Grandma = Wama
    Grandpa = Papa
    Move = moose

    And I remember once when I told her to be careful, she shot back “No mama. YOU be kurkul.”

    Aw, why can’t my 10 year old still talk that way? Ha.

  • Gora_Kagaz

    2006/06/12 at 1:02 pm

    awww….what a cutie! yea…most kids have trouble pronouncing my name, too. although nerner doesn’t sound like a bad nickname.

    and i found your previous post absolutely hilarious 🙂

  • jenlovely

    2006/06/12 at 1:04 pm

    i don’t think it’s your haircut. my kid’s 3.5 and she still refers to girls as he’s. we’re working on it but i see no hope for the immediate future.

    by the way, leta is unreasonably cute. she’s the kind of cute, that hurts.

  • katherinengg

    2006/06/12 at 1:08 pm

    Hi there! I found your site a few weeks ago and I have gotten hooked. I can’t say what it is exactly, seeing as I a)Have no kids b)My dog is two states away and c)I’m not married (I’m a lesbian – which probably explains a) Anyway, it doesn’t really matter what it is that I enjoy about it, just as long as I do. Keep up the good work!

  • Paige

    2006/06/12 at 12:37 pm

    That is too funny. I’ve been coming to your site for awhile now with my husband. It is one of his favorite sites and now mine. I love to read about Leta. She is adorable!

  • monkeyaker

    2006/06/12 at 12:54 pm

    Until she starts speaking in a low british accent and referring to you as masseur and madame, you’re probably in the clear.

  • Heather

    2006/06/12 at 12:55 pm

    I’m a Heather too whose younger cousins had no idea what to do with my name… of course my revenge came earlier when I called my Grandpa Burley “bumpa barley.”

  • Manda

    2006/06/12 at 12:57 pm

    I’ve been trying to teach my niece my sister’s name. Although, I would love to see when she shows up to her first day of school and has the conversation, “My mom’s name is Mom too!!”

  • Smooshtie

    2006/06/12 at 12:59 pm

    Awww! She is so adorable!!!

  • solaana

    2006/06/12 at 1:00 pm

    I love how she looks like she’s kind of embarrassed to be on tv, the way most kids seem to be when they realize they’re being taped. Except me, of course – my dad had the video camera permanently attached to his head so there’s all sorts of evidence of my real personality out there.

  • Wendy Mac

    2006/06/12 at 12:29 pm

    I have countless hours of video footage of my daughter as a toddler watching herself on the teeny screen and giggling and blushing. And that’s it.

    Call me crazy, but I think she has “Oscar Winning Actress” all over her.

  • Julie

    2006/06/12 at 12:30 pm

    Cheer up, when my mom was little, none of her siblings could say her name (Linda). So she got called “Ninny.” Which was fine until her youngest brother changed it to “Dumb Ninny.”

    Thanks for the smile, Miss Leta. I needed one today! 🙂

  • NewfieldBella

    2006/06/12 at 12:34 pm

    My son is 4 1/2. He refers to me as “he” and answers his daddy with “Yes, mam”

  • TigerLambGirl

    2006/06/12 at 12:22 pm

    Ah, Heather – your bring up so many lovely memories with your stories;).

    One day in 1995, I heard my husband’s car as he was arriving home from work. As is usual, I went to open the front door – with my daughter trailing just behind me.

    When I opened the door, I was pleasantly suprised to see my husband carrying a fresh bunch of beautiful flowers in one hand and his flight/helmet bag in the other. Just as I was about to say how beautiful the flowers were – our two year old adorable bundle of cuteness thrusted her hands across her little chest and exclaimed:

    “Slowers, sor me?!”

    At which point, her Daddy knelt down on one knee and presented them to her, whilst giving me a wink and a kiss over her shoulder.

    She could not, for the life of her, pronounce ‘f’ until she was about 5 or 6. I can still hear her little voice saying those words (she’s 14 now) and it always warms my heart.

    She’s totally got Daddy wrapped round her little finger still.

  • shy

    2006/06/12 at 12:13 pm

    awesome! just adorable!

  • Monyikka

    2006/06/12 at 12:17 pm

    every time i see that kid i wonder how the two of you manage to refrain from eating her alive.


  • Amy

    2006/06/12 at 12:02 pm

    My son Noah came in just as I was watching this video and he said
    Who is that, Mommy?
    That’s Leta.
    Is she our friend?
    She is someone who lives in Utah.
    Please turn on Sponge Bob, Mom.

    Leta is going to be famous among my son’s generation…

  • TigerLambGirl

    2006/06/12 at 12:04 pm

    I swear.

    I just felt my tubes come untied.

  • PixieMegh

    2006/06/12 at 11:59 am

    So. Freaking. Cute!!

    It’s okay, according to my niece/nephew Meghan=May Man/Mennan

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Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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