Say my name, say my name

Rhema has a Family ID program at school. I got myself all worked up when she first started this program.

She is presented with 3 pictures – one of Hope, one of her Dad, and one of me.  And her teacher says, “Rhema, touch Dad.”

It started with full prompts. Her teacher would guide Rhema’s hand to the picture of Dad. Over time the prompts faded to a touch at the elbow. 

And now, after a year and a half of working on this every day at school, Rhema can do it independently!!!

At her IEP meeting last week, we were told that she has even said our names when she touches the pictures. Brandon and I could hardly believe this.

We have yet to see it with our own eyes, hear it with our ears. But after the meeting I was “super excited”, as Hope would say.

Rhema’s never called my name. She’s never called me anything. If she ever did, well, then I missed it. And I’ve kind of been on the look-out for it for 7 years. So I don’t think I missed it.

But Rhema has progressed so much in terms of language that – with a little work – we can get her to repeat just about any 1 or 2-syllable word. Yes. HUGE!

So I thought, I’ll teach her my name! What should I have her call me? Hhhhhmmmm.

Mom? That’s a nice, short, one-syllable word. And that’s what they use at school.

But my mother was not crazy about “Mom.” She preferred we call her “Mommy”. Because “Mom” made her feel old. And then in 7th grade I started taking Latin and decided to call my mother “Mater.”  (And I still do to this day. “Salve, Mater,” I say. She loves it. I think.)

My Mommy/Mater and me in 1985, living in Panama

My mother called her mother “Mama.” While I like calling myself Mama in writing, it’s a little too country for me in the real world.

Similarly, Brandon calls his mother “Ma.” Yeah. Not happening. This ain’t Little House on the Prairie.

So after much contemplation, I led Rhema to her room and stood her in front of me. I gripped her shoulders, gazed into her eyes. It was a historic moment.

“Rhema,” I said. “I’m… Mommy!”

And then I fell down laughing. (My kid must think I’ve finally lost all my marbles).

I got myself together.

“Rhema. Say ‘Mommy.’”


“Say ‘Mommy.’”


I needed reinforcements.

I pulled out a popsicle.

“Rhema. Say ‘Mommy.’”


“Noooo. That’s my Dad.”

“Pop. Pop.”

“Oh. Pop. You want pop?”

“Pop. Pop.”

“Say ‘Mommy.’”

“Pop. Pop.”

“Say ‘Mommy.’”

“Pop. Pop.”

I gave her the popsicle.

But I did not give up.

Finally, later that night,

it. happened.

I don’t know if she was congested or just had trouble with the sounds or what. And she always says words at least twice in a row.

But, friends, I proudly give you my new name.

I am…

“Mahi Mahi.”

30 thoughts on “Say my name, say my name

  1. Before Jack was ready to talk (as I like to call it), and I so desperately wanted him to call me Mommy (I’d waited 8 years, after all), he called me “Mom-eye,” really fast, so it came out Momeye (emphasis on the eye). I loved it.

  2. Oh my gosh! Too funny! In terms of progress, that is so amazing it brings tears to my eyes… I hope she doesn’t fry you up for dinner though 🙂
    At my house, we are “mommydaddy.” It doesn’t matter who he is talking to, or why… We are both “mommydaddy”

  3. So Cute! (and I love that you fell on the floor laughing!) You have to keep your sense of humor living this life. 🙂 xoxo

  4. Crying too many tears of joy to laugh yet. No mater WHAT she calls you, to be able to hear it from her lips, with her own voice? To me, that is a miraculous thing. I long for the day I might hear Nik call my name without an electronic voice.

    Mahi Mahi. You know, it’s one of my favorite fish. It fits. xo

  5. I am just soaked with years, Mahi Mahi…. The patience and the love you have with your babe – and that she said the name all of us Mahi Mahi’s long to hear…

    Bless you, Mahi Mahi…

    SO much love for you…

    SGM and I are both overjoyed for you.

    May you have the sweetest dreams… of your sweet girl and her most perfect words ;0)

    [HE is so good. HE is.]

  6. Oh Jeneil- tears of JOY for you!!! To hear it for the first time… there is nothing better. You deserved that moment! ( and I love Beth’s comment about the meaning. Couldn’t find a more appropriate definition to describe you!)

  7. I’ve very recently found your blog. And my son was just diagnosed in Nov. (still seems “fresh” to me). I can’t tell you what a blessing it’s been to read your favorites and the more recent posts. This had me both laughing and crying. God bless you and your little one and family. I can’t wait to go back and read your whole journey until now.

  8. This is amazing! So, so awesome!

    I think it’s funny, too, because we don’t have much control over what our kids call us. I would prefer “Mommy,” but so far, my two oldest persist in calling me “Mama.” It’s grown on me!

  9. You never fail to amaze me! You are such a strong woman. I love your new name. Your new name was your RIGHT NOW WORD spoken from your lil miracle! God is sooooo good! Love you guys.

  10. I am *so* glad to hear how much she’s progressed! I’d take that name any day! I know you haven’t heard from me much, certainly not since you knew me as “Mia”, but I’m still around… and I also sent you an award on my blog. It is up on the blog tomorrow. You and you family are always in my thoughts!

  11. Pingback: A fish and a gardening tool, yeah « Autism In a Word

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