Sunday, March 27, 2005

Times Are Changing

Abby has more than her fair share of Grandparents. She has a combined total of 7 grandparents of the great and regular variety. That's a lot of spoiling for one little girl. When I was pregnant with Abby Mike was concerned about how she would be able to keep all these grandparents straight. What she would call them all, should we have different names for them and stuff like that. Mike grew up with only 1 grandparent so multiple grandparents wasn't something he had dealt with before.

Now I grew up with 2 sets of grandparents and my great grandma, so I knew we could just wait and take our cues from Abby. She would be able to figure it out for herself when she was old enough. When I was little I starting calling my maternal grandma "Big Grandma". Which I'm sure shocked my mother the first time she heard it since "Big Grandma" was decidedly larger than my "Little Grandma". My child's mind didn't work like that however. You see we lived in the East End a few blocks away from "Little Grandma's" and "Big Grandma" lived up the mountain so we had to go up the "big" hill to get to their place. And so they became Big Grandma and Little Grandma. Of course as I got older I sort of out grew those titles and they became Grandma/pa Blondel or Kudlowich.

Just recently we've noticed Abby has started to indentify which Grandparent she's talking about or talking to. They're all either Grandma or Papa followed by their first name. So we have Papa Brian, Grandma Linda, Papa Joyce (don't ask me why, but that's what she calls her) and so on. Now that's something we never did as kids. In fact when Dave and I were young and visiting Big Grandma (this is one of those stories woven into our family history, one that gets retold often when we're all gathered together) the phone rang and David answered it. The person calling asked to speak to Emily and Dave told them there wasn't anybody there by that name and hung up. At the time Dave and I had no idea why the grown ups found that so very funny, but I'm sure you can guess it's because my Grandmother was Emily. As kids we had no idea that our Grandparents had actual names besides Grandma/pa.

That was true for all adults when I was a child. All the adults I ever encountered were Mr. or Mrs. so-and-so. Unless they were very close friends of my parents and then they were Aunt or Uncle so-and-so. There were adults we were permitted to call by their first names by some loophole. For example grown children of our parent's friends that we called Aunt and Uncle. I can't speak for Dave, but I know I always felt like I was getting away with something in those circumstances. By contrast I don't think Abby has ever addressed someone as Mr or Mrs so-and-so. My friends would think I was nuts if I had Abby call them Mr or Mrs. I think they would find Abby calling them Aunt or Uncle a little strange too. We do have a couple of friends she addresses as that by their request.

Of course every child is a little sponge soaking up knowledge when you don't expect it. Somehow she's learned about calling people Mr. and Mrs. She's even invented a little game we play. She'll approach me saying "Oh hi Mr. Mommy (or sometimes I'm Dr. Mommy)," with her hand out stretched. We shake hands and she tells me "I'm Abby," while placing her hand on her chest to indicate herself. Then right away she says, "Okay, bye Mr. (or Dr.) Mommy and leaves the room. Only to return moments later so we can do it again. Of course the more people in the room the more fun it is. We played this game at (Mr.) Darlene's for a good 10 minutes or so.
I would hesitate to say one way is better than the other. I think most importantly I'm bringing up a polite little girl and I have my parents to thank for that.

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