by Mad Rocket Scientist
It started off simply enough. When Bug was upset, I would hold him and quietly tell him, “It’s alright, daddy’s got you, Bug.” No big meaning there, just a father saying something so his infant son would recognize who was holding him. I could have just as easily said “Supercalifragilistic Expealidocious” and achieved the same end. Still, it’s what I said, and what he heard every time he was upset and dad came to make it all better. Saying it became habit.
Until one night, a few months back, as I held him and he drifted off the sleep. I kissed his head and quietly said it to him. He snuggled in to my shoulder, and in my ear I heard a quiet whisper, “Gotchu Daddy.”
It’s amazing how fast a heart can melt.
A few days later, while riding on my shoulders and getting bounced around while dad went skipping around the mall (in a very un-manly fashion, good thing my wife loves me anyway), I felt Bug slip a bit from his perch. I came to an immediate stop and got him secured back on my shoulders, while saying it. He replied by leaning forward to my left, wrapping his arms around my face, and saying in a breathless giggle, “I Gotchu, Daddy!”
It started to become a game, something we’d say back and forth to each other while playing or wrestling. I always started it, though. Until one day, out of nowhere, he tackled me and informed me that he did indeed have his father. Soon after, he started to do it to his mother, performing a flying tackle in an effort to avoid bedtime, and telling my wife, “I Gotchu, Mommy!”
Now, in the past week or so, as he approaches his second birthday (my God he’s going to be 2 next month!), he’s started saying it whenever he gives us a hug. We don’t need to say it first, or be playing at the time. I’ll be cooking and he’ll just run into the kitchen, hug my leg, say “I Gotchu Daddy.”, and as soon as I hug him back and reply, “I got you too, Bug,” he’ll go back to whatever he was doing before.
My wife isn’t so sure, but I think this is how he says “I love you”, and in a way, it’s a perfect expression of the emotion, especially for a near 2-year old. What is funny is he never says love. He talks up a storm, and I know he has mastered the phonemes necessary to say love, but he won’t. He’s never not heard the word, from the moment he was born we’ve said it to him many times a day, as have the other assorted adults in his life, but to date he’s never repeated the word. I don’t care, however, because I’m pretty sure I’m right. This is his way of saying it, and I get it.