Monday, April 23, 2007

What Do You Call Them?

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.

3 comments:

triLcat said...

My parents were always Abba and Eema.
When I was in high school, I watched Animaniacs and there's a girl there who calls her mom "Lady." Somehow it caught on, and I often call her lady.

It works out ok, b/c my husband calls his parents Mom and Dad, so Abba and Eema were easy for him to adopt as "names" rather than titles.

My husband wants the kids to call him Tatty, and I want the kids to call me mommy. Mommy just sounds warm to me.

Scraps said...

Growing up, I called my parents Mama and Papa. However, although Papa stayed Papa, over time Mama has become "Ma/Mommy/Ima" as well as the original Mama. I think I call her Mama/Mommy pretty much interchangeably.

Hila said...

Being Swedish, there was no doubt that my father was going to be Papa--my mother says he insisted on it as soon as they got married and wanted to have kids! My mother, on the other hand, has had a variety of names over time. When I was really little I called her Mama and Mommy, and then I went through the "ma" phase--which was short-lived because she said it made her feel like she should be on Little House On The Prairie! These days, I call her Mom, Mama, Mommy, Mother, and sometimes I even call her by her first name (though that's usually when there are a bunch of moms around and I need to get her attention). It just depends on my mood and the context I guess. I have occasionally tried to call my Papa Dad and/or Daddy, but it just doesn't fit for him.

My Papa's parents are Farmor and Farfar, because in Swedish there is a distinction between your mother's and father's parents in the term for grandparent, so you have father's-mother and father's-father, and vice versa. It's funny though because my own Mother has taken to calling them that, too, but then again now that I think about it so does pretty much everyone else that knows them. Ha ha.

Oook I've had too much coffee...Time to unwind :-)