14 Mar
Don’t Call Me Mom

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

I have been taking care of a two year old boy a few times a week since he was 6 months old. His mom is a nurse who works nights, so when I have him, it’s for the whole day so she can sleep. Now that he can talk, he says the cutest little phrases and can be so much fun, but one thing is troubling me. He flat out refuses to call me by my name, insisting on calling me “Mom” – about 500 times a day. When I try to correct him, he just laughs and repeats “MOM!” And will continue to say it again and again until I answer him.

This is really cute and kind of heartwarming that he sees me in that way, but I’m really worried that his mother will be upset or hurt by this if she finds out – or might even suspect me telling him to call me that! She already gets her feelings hurt that he throws a fit when she comes to get him and take him home, I can only imagine what she might say to him calling me “Mom”!

So, do I tell her? Do I not bring it up? Do I refuse to answer him unless he says my real name? I’m really at a loss, this is not something I’ve ever encountered in my 23 years of babysitting!

Signed,

NotMom
____________________________________________________

Dear NotMom,

Something tells me that this kid knows that you’re not his mother and gets a huge kick out the game he’s playing with you. And that something is my immense wisdom and natural beauty and genteel breeding. Why, there are days when I sit in front of a mirror and marvel- oh, sorry. Back to you.

Chances are he’s calling you Mom because Mom stands for all things good and safe and not because he thinks you’re his mother.

Or he could be a moron. So hard to tell with kids these days.   Of course he may be calling you Mom because it gets a rise out of you. Can he break you and get you to respond to Mom as opposed to your name? Of course! He’s got all day!

You have a few choices:

First, you can Take Him On! Let him know that if he calls you Mom, you’ll call him Grandpa. This may get him to stop, or may lead you down the path of going absolutely insane as he rejoices in his new moniker. This is the part where I draw your attention to the disclaimer at the bottom of this page. We are here for entertainment. And disclaim all liability for the harm that may come to you.

Second, you can ignore it. Chances are the fun of calling you Mom will wear off if you don’t reward it with attention.

But whatever you decide, definitely tell his mother about it. Let her know that you believe that this is a phase that he’s going through, suggest your plan for dealing with it and ask her for her input.   Hopefully the two of you being on the same page and using the award-winning strategies in this post will make him lose interest in calling you Mom sooner rather than later.

Keep us posted!

Marinka, TMH

8 Responses to “Don’t Call Me Mom”

03.14.11#1

Comment by Desperate Dietwife.

When I was 11 months old my mom had the ungainly idea of giving birth to 2 twins. As if this wasn’t enough, after a while she sent me to her mom and sister, who lived about 1000 miles from her, because she couldn’t cope with 3 children. As a result, when she came to collect me I absolutely refused to call her mom, and called my aunt mom instead.
I was told all of this, of course: I can remember none of it. Anyway I’m pretty sure I knew the different relationship I had with the two women, only I called mom the one who had been taking care of me for so long and was also a little angry with my mother for sending me away.

You are a thinking on your own embarassment and the mother’s pain, while I think you should focus on the child.
In calling you mom, he is acknowledging that you are taking care of him (and yes, he is probably very amused by your reaction) and he is also sending a message to his mother. However hurt she may be, she is not half as hurt as her son, and being an adult she has better ways to cope with it.
Chances are that the kid feels abandoned by his mom, and this is what you both should work on.
Chiding him for calling mom the wrong woman would only make things worse for him, I believe.

Good luck! 🙂

03.14.11#2

Comment by Plano Mom.

These are great answers to a common problem. And I do believe it is more common than you think. My son called EVERYONE INCLUDING THE MAILMAN “Mama” except me. I had a real complex about it until someone pointed out that the main time he used “Mama” was when he was crying for something. I could live with him crying for someone else.

03.14.11#3

Comment by Heather, TMH.

Both of my boys called me “Dada” for the LONGEST time when they were babies. And I stayed home with them. Talk about unappreciative turds.

03.14.11#4

Comment by Becky.

If my kids called someone else mom at that age, I would have been tempted to sign over my parental rights, in an effort to regain my freedom.

*Whoops* – outloud voice again.

03.14.11#5

Comment by "NotMom".

Thanks for the advice and comments.
One funny (but very true!) follow up I have is this: the last time I watched him, every time he called me “Mom”, I’d correct him by saying “I’m not Mom, I’m…”. Instead of him getting the idea and calling me by my very easily pronounceable name, he then spent the afternoon calling me “NotMom”. Then giggling.

Something tells me he does INDEED know I’m not Mom…but that it’s just more convenient for him to call me that than learn a whole new name. He’ll probably grow up and call all his girlfriends “Babe” instead of worrying about their real names.

03.14.11#6

Comment by Mandy.

HAAAA!!!

“Or he could be a moron. So hard to tell with kids these days.”

I’m voting for that.

03.14.11#7

Comment by dusty earth mother.

Perhaps he’s calling you Mom because of your immense wisdom and natural beauty and genteel breeding–oh, sorry. That’s Marinka.

03.18.11#8

Comment by Link Different « ad hoc MOM.

[…] If he calls you Mom, call him Grandpa! […]

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