Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What would Carol Brady do?

Hey there-

Dear Mike, Welcome to our classroom!  Please don't spend to much time talking to pepel. Love, Arthur

This was a recent note Arthur wrote to Mike for a back to school event. Our family thought the note was hysterical when I showed it to everyone at dinner the next time we were all together. We understand the note was in reference to the fact that Mike knows EVERYONE and talks to everyone  ALL THE TIME. The kids regularly freak out when Mike will "run into" a store to pick something up because he takes forever since he will invariably see someone he knows and start chatting. Don't even get me started on trying to get him out of coffee hour at church.

The teacher, on the other hand, did not understand the note. When Mike tried to explain that Arthur was mocking him she thought it was because he called him "Mike" in the note and not "Dad". Upon further explanation she still didn't really get it, she was stuck on the fact that Arthur did not call Mike "Dad".

"But he's the only dad he's ever known, right?" she said to me nonchalantly.


This issue confounds people. I am counted in those people who are confounded.

Mike's kids call me Irene and no one says a word about it. But, then, they have a mom. My kids have a dad, he just happens to be dead. As the quote goes; death ends a life not a relationship.

It's complicated. I will look at the THREE boys and say; "Go ask Mike...your dad."

What is that?

It has been suggested to me that I simply start calling Mike "Dad" when referring to him with my boys. But I just can't seem to do it, it feels weird at this point somehow, kind of like suddenly changing the name you call your child when they turn five.

My two boys and I were recently watching re-runs of The Brady Bunch. Ah, the Brady's, things were so simple for them. They were both widowed yet you never heard any mention of their late spouses names, no one ever had a melt down while decorating the Christmas tree, none of the children ever seemed to be grieving or conflicted  regarding the loss of a parent, they had no "picture issues", and the kids called the new parent mom and/or dad without any hesitation.


Of course, the room the three boys shared on the show looks NOTHING like the room our three boys share here in real life, plus we have no live-in housekeeper, so what is the use of comparing, really? I guess any issue that takes longer than 22 minutes to solve was not written into the script, and we are at five years plus for this one. That would be one long sitcom episode.

Maybe we should pick some kind of word for Mike that isn't "dad" but shows endearment and male leadership. Something like "pop" or "pa" or "father" (I know that one is not terribly endearing).

But then I feel terms of endearment should come naturally and not be assigned. Besides, that wouldn't solve the problem of addressing all the children at once anyway. I would still be using two different words when referring to Mike/ dad/ pop.


Anyway, last night Arthur, Mike and I were on the couch watching The Sing Off. Arthur was sprawled between us with his feet draped over Mike's legs and his head in my lap. Mike pulled Arthur's toes while Arthur giggled. When I look around our house I see a framed picture Arthur drew of our family for Mike for his birthday one year with "Mike" front and center in the picture, lots of scribbled curly hair on top of his head. In the kitchen hangs a house Arthur made last year with three big hearts and the word "mom" following each heart. After I hung it on the wall he added three little hearts followed by "dad" to "complete the picture".

I think about all this and I wonder if it really matters what Arthur calls Mike.

It is the way he feels about him that matters.

Thanks for checking in-


1 comment:

  1. Irene, Thanks for posting this. I figured you/Mike/his kids/your kids probably had some discussions on this subject. Even I wondered about it, what's best for everyone, about being authentic, about remembering the important part your dear dead husband has in your/Arthur's life, all the while making sure Arthur feels loved and connected to the main guy in his life right now. Whatever he calls him, it's the love that matters--sounds like it's working. Lois W.