Readers, I have a problem.
Now I suppose I should toss out a quick disclaimer: I have my health, my kids are well fed, and for the moment, we do have a roof over our heads. So in the grand scheme of things, perhaps it isn’t a “problem”.
An inconvenience? A concern? Regardless.
Ryder calls me “Lena”. And I can’t get him to stop.
I know, I know, I know it shouldn’t bother me so much. Many friends and family members actually think it’s kind of cute. And for a while, even I thought it was rather enduring. Ha ha, my son calls me by my first name.
Now, it drives me crazy.
I’m not exactly sure why he prefers addressing me as “Lena” – after all, it hardly has an interesting ring to it, eh? Let’s be real, it’s not “Desirée” or “Katerina” and furthermore, I spend the equivalent of 6 hours per day rambling off phrases such as “Give it to Mommy,” “Mommy said NO!” and “Come hold Mommy’s hand”… so… what the hell? And I AM his Mommy, right? I pick out his clothes, kiss his boo boos, cut his grapes in half and jump on Google for every symptom he’s ever had (or I thought he had, which includes, but is not limited to, shingles, bee stings and leprosy).
So… what the hell?
It’s been getting worse, friends. Last week, while taking a Popsicle out of the freezer for him, he looked at me pointedly and said, “Don’t lick it, Lena. That’s MY Popsicle.” Sure, I can deal.
Later that day, I accidentally spilled milk all over the counter due to a milk bag malfunction.
“What the hell, Lena?” he observed. (Yes, it’s indeed horrible that those exact words came out his mouth, but I will be the first to admit that I burst out laughing when he said it. I think this Mommy needs to watch her own potty mouth.)
But my absolute breaking point was while we were in Gymboree last week. Sorting through some of their cute fall merchandise, a salesperson sidled up to me.
“He’s so cute!” she gushed.
“Thank you,” I crooned. “Do you like this top, Ryder?”
“I don’t like it Lena,” he replied. ”Lena, let’s go home. Want to play cars.”
“Oh!” the salesperson gushed. “Are you his nanny? Or an aunt?”
“No, I’m his mother,” I retorted pleasantly.
“Ah, a stepmom. I thought so…
I didn’t want to say, but I was trying to find the resemblance.”
“Actually, believe it or not, I gave birth to this little charmer.”
“But… he calls you by your first name?”
Ugh. Yes, lady, he does.
I suppose the real question is why it bothers me so much. I mean, who cares, right? I’m his mother: I know it, he knows it, and that should be all that matters.
But it does matter.
On one level, it challenges my cultural notion of respecting your parents. By addressing me by name, it undermines my maternal authority and puts me on a level playing field (even though I do not believe this is his malicious intent). Still, the outcome is the same; I am reduced to a peer… and you do not have to take instructions from a peer.
On another level, it can be untimely and embarrassing, as witnessed in the Gymboree incident last week. I don’t want people to assume that I’m the hired help – not that there’s anything wrong with that – but let’s be real, I spent 26 hours labouring with him, I’m damn well going to claim him as my own.
And finally, if there’s one thing that defines my daily existence, it is that I AM a Mommy. I relish in it. I love it. And there are exactly two people in this world who have the right to call me that… and one of them doesn’t speak coherently yet.
(Oh Lord, please let Reid call me Ma, Mama, Mom or Mommy. Amen.)
We do our best to calmly and consistently correct Ryder, and am quite certain he will grow out of this phase, just as surely as he grew out of the whole sniffing-the-top-of-kid’s-heads thing.
For now… I am Lena; hear me rant.