By Mark Kennedy
“Gaggy” has left the building.
One day this month, quite abruptly, my 4-year-old son stopped rounding off the “D’s” in Daddy. Now, he clearly articulates DAH-DEE.
It’s weirding me out. He almost sounds English, as if he might one day chirp, “DAH-DEE can I have my Happy Meal with crumpets?”
The demise of Gaggy will delight the old biddy —; I should say the delightful anonymous reader —; who last year left a message on my work phone scolding me for allowing my then 3-year-old son to “talk like a baby.”
FYI, this is a little boy who can pronounce —; and define —; deciduous, ultrasound and velociraptor. I don’t think saying Gaggy at 4 years old is going to keep him out of Harvard. (I’m betting that poverty and my DNA will do the trick.)
The passing of Gaggy has been a little rough on me. I wanted his little boyhood to last as long as possible. I didn’t even object when he shorted Gaggy to Gag, his way of sounding more like a big boy —; as in, “Pass the ketchup, Gag.”
It is, however, a little disconcerting when he calls for the ball by yelling “Gag” while we’re playing backyard basketball. I’ll square up for a jump shot and he will be under the basket yelling, “Gag, Gag, Gag!”
Unfortunately, I have become Gaggy outside the house, too. A preacher once called me Gaggy from the pulpit, which caused me to jerk violently and nearly hiccup a Chiclet through my nose.
I once thought about getting a T-shirt that said “Gaggy.” One minute this sounded good, the next minute it made me nauseated. These waves of indecision repeated until I became hysterical and slapped myself.
A couple of times, the boy decided he would skip right over Daddy and test me by calling me Mark, which he pronounces “Mork.” Typically, he will wait until I’m a safe distance away with my back to him, and then yell, “Hey, Mork.”
On these occasions, I turn slowly and arch my eyebrows, which sends him into a gale of giggles.
I even introduced him to the old vaudeville routine: “Slowly I turn. Step by step. Inch by inch. ... To take my revenge.”
Then I kneel and explain to him that he was welcome to utter my first name under either of two circumstances:
1. I become completely deaf, or
2. The preacher at my future grandson’s baptism asks him, “WHAT HAVE YOU NAMED THIS CHILD?”
E-mail Mark Kennedy at email@example.com
Mark Kennedy is the editor of the Times Free Press opinion pages and writes the Sunday “Life Stories” column. He also writes a Saturday automotive column, “Test Drive,” for the Business section. For 13 years, Kennedy was features editor of the newspaper, and before that he was the newspaper’s first Sunday editor. The Times Free Press Life section won the state press award for Best Community Lifestyles four times during his tenure. Before Chattanooga’s newspapers ...