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.



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36 thoughts on “Gotchu!

  1. Awesome. Is that you and him in the pic?

    My wife is the “feeler” in our relationship. I’ve never been much of a feeler and have built up a certain callous to the emotional tugs and pulls of lil’uns from spending damn near every day of the past 10+ years with them. Mayo has softened that a bit but given what I know about how children can tug at your heart strings and how tuggable my wife’s heart strings can be, I’ve been trying to prepare her for moments like these. Were I not, there is very legitimate concern that she would go into some irrevocable state of shock.

    “One day he’s going to just walk up to you and say, “I love you, Mommy” and give you a kiss. You might have a heart attack when this happens. Make sure you have a paper bag with you.”


    • Yeah, that’s me & mini-me (seriously, he is; one of these Halloweens, we are both getting silver jumpsuits & he’s getting a skull cap).

      I also tend to be less “feeling” than my wife, but Bug is a pretty effective emotional trigger for me. Considering everything we went through to get him into this world, it’s little wonder.


      • They’ll do that. A number of people from work — who I generally keep at arm’s length as “proximity friends” — have commented on little things I’ve done that indicate my gooey emotional center.

        “Was Kazzy just nice? What’s up with that? [gasp] The baby! It’s getting to him! He is human!”

        “Considering everything we went through to get him into this world, it’s little wonder.”
        FWIW, I’d love to hear this story one day. I recognize it is your story and you are free to tell it or not as you wish, but I always am fascinated by the different paths we take to parenthood. Additionally, I also thing we stupidly stigmatize people who don’t conceive “naturally” when we should be celebrating the efforts they’ve made to create their family (assuming this is what you meant by “everything [you] went through”… which I may be way off in assuming).


      • The short of it was that our first attempt at kids ended in an ectopic pregnancy. The little guy was too tough by half, survived both attempts to end the pregnancy chemically, and had to come out via surgery. The surgery cost my wife both her tubes, so we had no choice but to try IVF.

        Bug was our third & final attempt at IVF.


      • I’ve become close with a colleague recently who had a long struggle to have her first (and only) child. She wants nothing more than to have another but for a host of reasons that is not in the cards for her. She is remarkably open about it — which is part of what got me thinking about the extent to which she stigmatize infertility, pregnancy complications, and the like — and I am thoroughly impressed by her for that. Our conversations have made me think about the way in which I — and we as a society — discuss pregnancy and how otherizing that can be to people whose stories don’t “follow the script”.

        I bet if you asked people to estimate how many children are conceived with support* of one kind or another, they’d guess just a fraction of the actual number

        * Even here, I feel limited by language. “Natural pregnancies” imply something unnatural about other pregnancies, which feels wrong. “Medical interventions” is probably a technically accurate term but feels overly technical. Oi…


      • Kazzy,
        considering the number of abusive men who withhold/break birth control from their partners, the amount of “medical intervention” might be a LOT higher than even the fertility docs would estimate.

        How hard is it to pick up fertility drugs on the black market?


      • I suspect that as the age of first time mothers increases, especially among the educated set (who typically wait to have their first), we’ll see more normalizing of assisted conception & pregnancies. I mean, socially we encourage women to wait until they are older, but biologically, that is not always ideal, and evolution hasn’t caught up to that yet.


  2. I gotchu MRS for this sweet, sweet piece.

    I agree, a way of not just saying but of physically demonstrating love. But so much more — trust and faith and being there.


  3. This was truly lovely.

    My oldest son has entered a phase where he likes to outdo me in finding ways of telling me how much he loves me. He loves me to the sun, to the moon, to Spain (!). When I leave for work in the morning, he runs to the window and signs “I love you,” lately modified to say “You love me,” too.

    It may be my favorite thing ever.


    • Not quite like my cousin and her daughter:

      Daughter: I love you to 100!
      Mom: I love you to 101!
      Daughter: [long, awkward pause] Well, I love you to 100.

      At least we know the exact cutoff.


      • My son’s little brother knows two large numbers (one of which isn’t actually a number): one hundred and “a zillion.” So if you play games like that with him, he will first say one hundred, and then skip straight to a zillion.


      • When The Boy (5) reaches for a “large” number it’s always “200,000” (though it might be “two hundred (and a) thousand”, that is, “1,200”).

        Unfortunately, it looks like math may not be his strong suit either…


      • No! Don’t say that! build the math confidence early & often! Everyone can do math, even the complex stuff. We’ve all just bought into the lie that some people aren’t cut out for math, parents (& teachers, sadly) perpetuate the attitude, & kids lose confidence in their ability to understand math.

        Truth is, everyone is good at math(absent an actual learning disability), but since some people get math much faster than others, we’ve decided that they represent the base line, instead of recognizing that they are closer to exceptional.


      • – I was really just joking, but, re: confidence, it’s actually worse than that.

        They have data showing that anxiety/stress shuts down the very same brain regions needed for math processing, creating a negative feedback loop where you CAN’T learn, because you are stressed about learning. And that stress association becomes sort of ingrained.

        So the way I was taught, totally screwed up my abilities, because to this day, I sometimes see numbers and my brain just says, “nope, I’m out”.

        I really really hope to ensure my kids have a different experience.


      • I know. Took me years to overcome my math anxiety. I was well into my Junior year of college before I finally broke through it & found math to be a lot easier. It’s still work, and sometimes I have to take a deep breath & calm down, but once I’m in the zone, I’m good at it.

        And thank you! :-)


  4. Loved this! Reminds me of the relationship between my husband and my 2.5 year old daughter. She brings out the silly, squishy side in him.


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