I believe in respecting your elders. Especially now I’m getting a bit older. Instilling my son with it is one of my primary goals as a parent.
This made it particularly embarrassing when my son started calling my father in law by his first name.
To avoid this problem my wife and I have always been careful to call each other Mummy and Daddy, however weird it gets. Even when we argue, which gives disagreements a somewhat surreal edge.
“Why does Daddy always forget to put the cheese away? He knows that it goes dry and horrible” Mummy says. Our children look at me, waiting for the answer.
“Daddy is very sorry for being silly and not putting the cheese away, although Mummy saying ‘always’ seems like a slight exaggeration. But thank you Mummy for always helping Daddy remember when he’s being an idiot.”
Sometimes we even call each other mummy and daddy when the kids have gone to bed. We can’t help it. It’s as if we have to fully inhabit our roles for them to be convincing. I have to glance around furtively before addressing my wife like a normal adult.
To tackle my son’s inappropriate familiarity toward his Grandpa I suggested we all make a special effort to call Grandpa “Grandpa”.
It’s strange calling my father in law Grandpa. Ironically it makes me feel as if I’m a naughty boy being cheeky about his age, but we all have to go through with it. Luckily, within a couple of grandparent visits, my son is cured. I breath a sigh of relief.
Then my wife, in a bit of a mood, shouts my first name up the stairs.
“What are you doing?” I hiss. “Don’t call me that.”
“Sorry. It was a mistake. Like you never make mistakes. Our son called me ‘honey’ for three months.”
I can’t pretend that didn’t happen. Or that it wasn’t my fault.
Then my son strides into the room, shouting my first name like he’s my Dad and I’ve been a naughty boy.