Off the Wall, May 25 , 2017

The sun was beginning to rise in Millbrook, Connecticut, yet the Cootaguns (often referred to as Mr. or Mrs. “C”) were still asleep. They had been out with friends the night before and planned to sleep in. All of a sudden the phone rang next to their bed. Mrs. “C” picked it up and said, “Hello.” On the other end was her son-in-law. “Maggie just had her baby!” he exclaimed. The two jumped out of bed and headed for the showers. We have to head down to Washington, D.C. just as soon as we get dressed.

It didn’t take long for them to do so, collect a few items, and jump in the car and depart. Five hours later they arrived in our country’s capitol. Quickly finding a spot, they parked in the hospital parking lot, turned off the motor, got out and locked up their vehicle. It was off to Room 372.

Upon arriving, they slowly entered the room. Maggie stated, “Mom and Dad, I want you to meet Marcella, our newest member to the family.” With that, Mr. “C” reached down his index finger and put it to the baby’s chest and said, “kootchi, kootchi-coo” in baby talk.

When one thinks of it, it seems to be a common practice when one sees a newborn to want to elevate one’s voice and use those words. Psychologically are we thinking the sibling can understand us better if we talk its language? In my opinion, I don’t think it makes one iota of a difference.

Even the very young, those who haven’t reached one year’s old, get that “kootchi-coo” treatment. And not only do kids hear this language, but animals as well.

There’ no better example than what goes on in our household when our son drops off his dog, Arlo, to stay for an unlimited amount of time. As soon as he jumps up in our laps, we proceed to enter that high-pitched mode stating, “Your so cute, oh yes you are. You know we love you. You’re our little boy,” and it goes on and on from there.

I can just imagine what Arlo must be thinking, “Just pet me on my belly. You can forget the baby talk. I get it. I get it. Pet me!”

How often in relationships do we call the one we love, “baby?” “Hey baby, what do you want for dinner tonight?” “Hey baby, you want to go to the movies tonight?” Or just, “Hey Babe, did you get the mail in yet?”

Why are we calling our adult lovers the same terminology that we gave reference to Maggie’s child, for example?

According to Dr. Leon F. Seltzer in an article he wrote for Psychology Today, he stated, “Sharing your feelings of enchantment with your beloved may be one of the most compelling emotional drives imaginable – at times, a need that’s simply overpowering.”

He went on to list a good many names some call our loved ones: “baby face, baby cakes, pet, pussycat, poopsy, cookie face, and gum drop.” Let me stop there for a minute.

As far as I’m concerned, all offspring bear resemblance to others. One comment about one of the above words – ‘poopsy.’ If I called my wife that term, I need not state what I’d hear back!

That brings me to a new subject, ‘baby’ being used in songs. Here, we are using the term of a newborn, such as Maggie’s baby, in songs in lyrics referring loved ones.

From Ricky Nelson’s song, “Be-bop Baby,” come these lyrics” “A Be-Bop Baby she’s the gal for me.” It tells in the song she’s a teenager. That leaves Marcella out of the picture!

Bruce Channel sang, “Hey, hey baby, I want you to know if you’ll be my girl, c’mon baby give me a whirl.” And how can we forget the Supremes’ “Baby Love” popular hit. Here are some of the lyrics: Ooh baby love, my baby love, I need you oh I need you…” That would be a good song for Marcella to sing to Maggie. But then the words worsen:” But all you do is treat me bad, break my heart and leave me sad.”

Isn’t it interesting how babies such as Marcella have such an alleged “sweet face,” but apparently the term “baby” has come to mean a “minute reflection of oneself seen in another’s eyes (www.etymonline)”?

In my opinion, each couple has its own names for terms of endearment. If it’s ‘baby,’ so be it!

- Paul J. Volkmann
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