DEAR MISS MANNERS: My son and I were talking on the phone about my upcoming visit to their house. My 4-year-old granddaughter was chattering in the background. (She's very, very verbal.) My son asked if she wanted to "say hello to Babs."
I distinctly heard her reply, "Who's Babs?" My son said, "She's my mommy and she's your grandmother."
To my surprise, I heard her say, "She's not my grandma. Bobbie is my grandma" (referring to our daughter-in-law's mother).
My son just let this stand, uncorrected. If one's son lets this sort of statement stand, is there a way for a grandparent to respond within the bounds of etiquette? Obviously, the so-called maternal grandmother advantage is at work here. Or perhaps even firmly entrenched. But how to handle this is a real puzzle.
GENTLE READER: Have you considered asking to be called "Grandma"? That should fix it in your granddaughter's mind, and incidentally give you an edge over Bobbie. Not that Miss Manners wants to encourage competition.
She gathers that for whatever reason, you have not been able to spend enough time with your granddaughter for her to remember you. But as you will soon be visiting, you should be able to remedy that.
And someone needs to explain family relationships and nomenclature to the child. Are you able to do that without seeming insulted, and without making comparisons to her relationship with the other grandmother? Perhaps by telling charming stories of your son's childhood?
If not, it would be better to ask one of her parents to explain -- while you are sitting by, looking proud to be her grandmother.