Born in California

Posted: December 22nd, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Friends and Strangers, Miss Kate | 2 Comments »

The other day I was outlining Kate’s upcoming social engagements. This is one of my duties in my dual roles as Social Secretary and Chauffeur.

Me: “And on Saturday we’re going to Maddy, Elliot, and Cameron’s house. Their grandma, who Daddy and I know, is going to be visiting from Minnesota.”

Kate: “Oh. What’s her name?”

Me: “Bev.”

Kate: “Bev?”

Me: “Yes. Bev is short for the name Beverly. But… [thinking Bev was far too familiar for Kate to use with our friend's 80-plus mother] you can call her Grandma Bev.”

Kate: [furrowing brow and pausing mid mini-carrot munch] “Noooooo. I can’t call her that, Mama.”

Me: [digging deep into my New England roots, and trying to pass this idea off brightly] “Well, you can call her Mrs. Webb then!”

Kate:[in hysterics laughing] “That is so funny, Mama!”

Me: What?

Kate: “Mrs!! [drawing the word out] Saying Mrs!”

She dissolved into a pile of giggles then wandered off to stack more blankets on her shhh!-they’re-sick-and-sleeping dolls. Leaving me sitting at the table realizing that in her three-and-a-half years of life, including having multiple teachers at school and introductions to scads of people and friends of all ages, she’s never once addressed anyone using the title Mr. or Mrs.

As for me, growing up I never addressed any adult in any other way. My parents’ friends were Mrs. Tabor, Mr. Anguilla, Mrs. Froncillo. And anyone’s parents I’d meet for the first time would without question be a Mr. or Mrs. Whoever. (With little to no risk of their last name being any different from my friend’s.)  

It wasn’t until my late twenties, after living in California for a few years, that my then-boyfriend Mike’s parents helped break me of this habit. (Ironically, they were from the East Coast themselves.) I kept slipping into my Mr. or Mrs. comfort zone with them, but they persevered at using kind forms of classical conditioning to urge me to call them Hope and Michael. (You know, I could go to the salt lick after saying Hope all by myself with no prompting.)

Eventually I came around–even old dogs can learn–which greased the skids for future encounters with first-name-basis grown-ups.

Or maybe along the way I just became an adult myself.

Be that as it may, I still have to wait for Mark’s wonderful grandparents to make eye contact with me before speaking them. Calling them John and Lois seems so, well, peer-like.

I guess you can take the girl out of Rhode Island, but you can’t take the Rhode Island out of the girl. And Kate seems to be proving to me it’s just the same for California.


2 Comments on “Born in California”

  1. 1 Drea said at 4:52 am on December 23rd, 2008:

    Hope and Michael…hmmmm, were you on Thirtysomething?

  2. 2 Michael Tyler said at 10:23 am on December 23rd, 2008:

    Hope and Michael were on Thirtysomething when they were perhaps Fiftysomething. Whatever. The thing was that they were both born and raised (sorta) in Philadelphia where this TV melodrama was sited. Michael always lived in Philly, either in the project or in a row house with lots of cement and back alley ways. Hope left the project right after WWII and moved to a town north of Philly for a while then returned. Michael and Hope knew each other as did their families when they lived in the project (Hill Creek Project) where many military families waited for their dads to return from duty. Hope was 5 or 6 when she left Hill Creek and Michael was around 11. The re-met at a college mixer and as they say…the rest is history. And the history continues. They are now double-sixes and have been married going on 47 years. Seven grand kids and retired (which means busier than ever with volunteering and community and civic duties) Whew! No longer Thirtysomethings but still going strong.

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