ontology, epistemology & hereditary annoyingness

The in-laws are in town this week, and they are a wacky bunch.  I love them actually, they are a major reason why I married into this family, because I wanted to be related to them.  However, they’ve never before descended on us in quite such a mutli-generational format — we’ve got Grammy, Mom, Step-Dad, Sister, and Sister’s six-year-old daughter.

Things get confusing with the six-year-old around, because people are always referring to other people in the family based on who they are to her, so Grammy is Great-Grammy now, and Mom is Grammy, and Sister is called Mom. 

But Sister just informed us that she is a Grammy now, too, because one of the wayward step-children from her oh-so-brief marriage has now produced two offspring.  So Grammy (that’s Great-Grammy to Six-Year-Old Daughter) decided to call Sister Grammy for a few hours there tonight, and since Husband (who is, after all, the one actually related to these wackos by blood) still calls his Grammy Grammy (quite reasonably, I think), we have approximately 11 people in the house answering to the name Grammy.

I was notably not one of them.

I was knitting for most of the evening, however, so perhaps that qualifies me right there.

I thought it was universally accepted as creepy beyond words when married couples started calling each other Mommy and Daddy just because some shorty in the house knows them by those names.  Did I miss something?

Are you now supposed to pretend that you don’t have any first names — like some teachers I have known — the better to preserve some infant’s self-centered idea that the adults around it didn’t exist prior to their own blessed appearance in this earthly sphere?

I mean, sure, I was also profoundly irritated by that hippie family down the street, the kids all smugly calling their parents Joanne and Gary.  Like they were so much more evolved than we were.  Man.

But personally?  I remember understanding pretty easily that the gal I called Mom was Sally to everybody else — sometimes even Sal!  Implying a level of intimacy unknown even to me!  And that that meant that she was somebody else besides my mom.

Why am I so heated?  I dunno.  I’m not, really.  I think that secretly I just don’t like the name Grammy.  In my family it was Grandma and Grandpa for one set, and Granny and Grandad for the other set.

Then everybody but Grandad died, and that pretty much settled that.

Have to say, though.  That six-year-old is pretty cute.  And smart!  We had a conversation tonight about a dream she had where a big ol’ fish bit her, and so we chatted for a while about the nature of reality and knowledge (was that real? and how could you tell?  is pain a sign of reality?  if your mind tells you it’s true, is it necessarily true? and so on) and she ended by crossing her arms over her chest and saying:

Just because it was in my imagination doesn’t mean it wasn’t real.

Which totally, totally works for me.

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