When my Aunt Evelyn was a toddler, her parents were trying to teach her how to address different adult family members. Whenever she called an aunt or uncle by their first name, her parents would say, “You must say Uncle Ted or Aunt Gladys.” I’m sure she heard those words many times, as it is hard for a toddler to hear everyone else calling the person by name, and yet they must use something different. It can be a very confusing time for a little kid just trying to learn the ropes.
These days, at least in our family, many of the aunts and uncles go by just their first names, and while some people might think that odd, I am just as comfortable being Caryn as I am Aunt Caryn. We don’t consider it to be any kind of a show of disrespect. But in times past, and in many families today, if the person is an aunt or uncle, you must address them as Aunt this or Uncle that. We do draw the line at grandma and grandpa, and my grandchildren know that while Gma, G, or G-mamma is ok, Caryn is not. I suppose that could be confusing to little kids too, but that is the way it is. Another place where we draw the line is Mommy and Daddy, or Mom and Dad. But for the aunts and uncles we are a little more casual.
Nevertheless, in my Aunt Evelyn’s day and my childhood, the children were taught to use the proper terms of aunt and uncle. So Aunt Evelyn, in her early training days, heard over and over that she must say Uncle Cliff or Aunt Myrtle. And as all little kids do, she worked very hard to try to figure out who was who so her parents, aunts, and uncles would be pleased with her. Children love to get praise from their parents and such.
One day, when my grandmother needed my grandfather for something, all that training came to the point of complete understanding. My grandmother told my Aunt Evelyn to go get her daddy, and quick as a wink, my Aunt Evelyn said, “You must say…Uncle Daddy.”