When Jet first started to talk, I tried to call myself Nana so that her name for me would be unique. I persevered for a few days, but it felt awkward and just wrong. I was meant to hold the name Grandma and nothing else would do. Jet apparently agreed and quickly learned to pronounce it quite nicely. We expected that she would adopt the name Grandpa just as easily — until the first time she looked at him and declared, “Papa!” Suddenly, it seemed just right.
Sometimes, Jet adds a possessive, making our names sound even sweeter: my Grandma, my Papa. When she lifts her arms to be held, she could call either of us “dog breath” and we would still find it delightful.
Jet’s Papa took some vacation time to stay home with us for a couple of days this summer. During this period, my popularity fell in comparison. Our little princess graciously bestowed the preponderance of her favors on her Papa. He was selected to play with her toys, get her drink, read her story and hold her hand on a walk… while her relatively lackluster Grandma was left holding the dog leash. Of course, being the favorite of a toddler isn’t all a bed of roses. I wasn’t especially sorry to hear Papa selected for the honor of changing her very poopy diaper.
After Papa returned to work, Jet held fast to the hope that he might come home at any minute. When the phone rang she raced toward the sound shouting “Papa!” She squealed “Papa” when the UPS driver knocked on the door, when the mail was delivered and when the dog barked. Yesterday, he returned from work just in time to see her briefly before her mama took her home. As the garage door rumbled up, Jet ran to the kitchen gate and in her haste to reach her Papa made a very credible attempt to scale it.
My father played a little game with his grandchildren. “There’s something I’ve been wondering,” he’d say…“There’s something I’ve been wondering…. Are you my sweetie? Are YOU my sweetie?” When child of the moment answered, “no!” my dad would exclaim, “Yes you are — yes you are — yes you are” and add some tickling for good measure. When I play this game with Jet she answers “YES!” every time. I tickle her anyway and agree with her. When the question is reversed however, “Whose sweetie are you?” Jet’s answer is “Papa’s sweetie!” I don’t mind. I know how she feels.