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Mama, where is Daddy? When the dreaded question strikes

Lady Speak

I often hear people say police officers ask too many questions. Those who say that have never been locked in a room with a two-year-old. Who else gets to answer even the most obvious questions all day, every day with their toddlers? Nothing humbles parents more than a two-year-old trying to discover the world.

I wake up every morning to a string of questions that run all through the day and they never get tired of asking. Sometimes she just walks towards me while I am eating and asks me why I am eating then goes ahead to ask where the food goes and what it goes to do in the stomach. Sometimes, I am patient enough to answer all the questions diligently but sometimes I just switch off and pretend that I can’t hear anything.

Every night, my daughter asks me why we are going to bed and I give her the same answer, hoping it will get into her head once and for all but it never does. Or maybe, just maybe, she knows what she is doing to me.

The look on her face when she starts her string of questions is very innocent. The thought of going off on her dies as fast as it sets in. I have never been afraid of any of her questions — until recently when she asked me the one dreaded question.

That afternoon, I was relaxing on a chair and sipping my juice in peace when she walked over to me, tapped me on the shoulder and asked, “Mama, where is Daddy?” I almost choked on my juice! I have never been prepared to answer that question even though I think about it every day.

I looked into her eyes and the innocence almost made me shed tears. She was standing their patiently waiting for an answer yet I was gasping for breath.

At first, I wanted to sit her down and tell her where her father was but what would a child who is barely three understand? So I decided that I wasn’t going to have that talk with her. I was going to just show her father.

So I took my phone, logged into my Facebook account and went straight to her father’s profile and started swiping through his photos one by one as I told her what was happening in each photo.

“Baby, there is Daddy, you see? He is driving, eating, swimming, jumping, sitting, running…,” and so on. She looked at me and started laughing sarcastically and I wondered why she was doing that. She then shouted, “That’s not Daddy! Stop lying!”

I almost collapsed! Had someone else already showed my daughter another Daddy before I did? You should have seen how fast I sat up and asked her who her Daddy was if it wasn’t the one I was showing her. She was confused at first, maybe because of how serious I looked with my eyes wide open when I asked her who her Daddy was. But she relaxed, held my hand and directed me out of bed as she walked me to the living room.

My heart was beating so fast as I tried to figure out which Daddy this was that I was going to be introduced to. When we got to the living room, she put her right hand on her forehead and started opening and closing her fingers like they were a mouth.

With her left hand on her waist, she started shaking her booty left and right and started singing, “Daddy, shark doo doo doo doo doo...” then looked at me and said, “here is Daddy. Now do like Daddy.” I was so relieved. All she wanted to do was sing along to her favourite song. I quickly took my position as ‘Daddy Shark’ and start singing along as I danced.

I have vowed to never again be caught off-guard with this question. OK, I am kidding, I know I will be caught off a million times more but as long as I can access his photos and show them to her, I will always have an answer till we get to that age when the photos will have to be accompanied with a story and an explanation. For now, let me adopt ‘Daddy Shark’ as our daddy.

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