Increasingly, the children do not call me Mom or Mommy or even by my first name, which is either Marla, Maria or Marsha, depending on how near-sighted you are, and which name you feel best suits me. I will answer to any of those, and really just about anything, but can’t help but wonder if it is good for our parent/child relationship for the children to be so cavalier.
The eldest calls me “Joey,” as, in “Yupperee, Joey,” – her response to any simple question, such as, did you brush your teeth. It is actually not unpleasant, in that it me makes me feel like we’re a couple of cowpokes, sitting in a barn in the evening, chewing hay.
Meanwhile, Miss She-May-Be-Small-But-She-is-Fierce has taken to calling me “Thing.” This is meant as a sign of complete and provocative parental harassment. It does not, as one might suspect, originate with Thing 1 and Thing 2 from “The Cat in the Cat,” although the child herself resembles those Things in both looks and temperament. “C’mon, Thing!” she’ll shout at me as we head out the door. Or she’ll ask, “So, Thing, which would you rather have, a cow, or a horse?”
I am expected to answer this, and other, comparative questions thoughtfully and in detail, opining on the advantages of owning either animal, which inevitably leads us to a discussion of horse milk.
Ye olde husband stunned us all last night in the car with a fascinating tidbit of information, specifically, that horse milk is drunk by people in Tibet. I think he may be wrong, and that what is drunk is actually Yak milk – but nonetheless, such a comment is good for ending most conversations, and I am going to encourage him to use this line liberally at work.
It is comforting that the small child also addresses her father and sister loudly as “Thing.” However, people look at us strangely in restaurants, no doubt wondering what peculiar theory of parenting we ascribe to, or whether we’re giving the children medical marijuana for their runny noses.
I have to admit that my behavior is also random and surprising at times. Under stress, or while waiting for a falafel entree, I will resort to any strange or comic behavior, like flapping my arms like a chicken. Last night at Esselon, both the little one and I did some flapping and squawking, while the older child insisted she be put up for immediate adoption. Ye Olde Husband simply communed with his beer, which was notably small and quiet compared to the rest of us.