Secretly, I married RaggedyDad because he planned to have his kids call him "Papa" which I thought was so cute.
Okay, not really. But I do think often about what children call their parents. I grew up calling my mother "Mommy" or later, as a teenager, just "Ma!" We're back to "Mommy" now. She's not really the type to be called "Mom" and although my Israeli father refers to her as "Ima" when speaking to us kids, we never really called her that.
With my father, there was no question he'd be "Abba". Anyone who has heard his gravelly voice and blend of teddy bear/intimidating has probably wanted to call him "Abba" themselves. When we moved to America, I had a brief phase where I wanted to call him "Daddy" but it just felt too silly with him and didn't stick at all.
I think most of my friends growing up lived in "Mom and Dad" households.
RaggedyDad is Russian, and it was clear that his own kids would call him "Papa." Once Ann started referring to him as Papa, I do remember some emotion on his part. His own "Papa" died when RaggedyDad was just six. After so many years without a Papa, it came with mixed feelings to actually be the Papa.
While speaking to Ann and Andy, RaggedyDad often refers to me as "Mama" and sometimes they call me "Mama", but not usually. When Ann was smaller and wanted to get the attention of both parents, she cleverly decided to call us "MaPa." I hear her and Andy use the MaPa term once in a while.
Since this is what they've always heard, my kids view the term "Papa" as the original, basic meaning for "father." Ann tells me that other kids call their Papas other names, like Abba, Daddy, or Tatty. But, she tells me, it all means "Papa". When we did a round-robin playgroup and sang "The Wheels on the Bus," we had six kids and four terms for father. So our circle time lyric was a rushed combination - "The Abbas/Daddies/Tatties/Papas on the bus say 'I love you!'" Whew! Funnily, all the mothers were called "Mommy."
Readers: What do you/did you call your parents? Did you feel like it was the norm or something unusual? Did it change as you grew up? What do your kids call you/do you plan to have your kids call you?
Lastly, I want to express how sorry I am for the loss that my very dear sister-in-law "L" has just sustained of her own "Dad", nearly 20 years after losing her Mom.