Dear Miss Manners: My husband’s daughter will be having a baby soon. This will be our first grandchild, and so what the child calls me will, I imagine, set the standard for future grandchildren.
My husband’s daughters were adults when my husband and I married. Although we rarely see his ex-wife, I suspect that we will all be thrown together more frequently when babies enter the picture.
Should the children call me Grandma also, since I am their grandfather’s wife? Is there another possibility? I really want to do the right and kind thing. I don’t want to upset anyone, or confuse anyone, but the children using my first name seems odd to me, and, as I am a Yankee, Miss Scarlet just would not fit.
Gentle Reader: Even without divorces, it is not uncommon for children to have more than one living grandmother. Well, two, anyway; and with divorces, four or, in the case of step-exes, more. So it behooves the family to work out designations, which could include some version of the title (diminutives, such as Granny, with or without your given or surname added, or translations that refer to the family heritage, such as “Oma” or “Nonna”), or just a special, affectionate nickname.
All generations may be considered interested parties in finding something mutually agreeable, and, in your case, your stepdaughter may also represent the wishes of her mother, toward whom Miss Manners appreciates your sensitivity.
It should be noted, however, that veto power ultimately goes to the baby, who may eventually ignore even unanimous decisions and call you what he or she likes.
Dear Miss Manners: I’m about to go to a high school reunion. How does one reply when someone compliments you besides thanking them, if the years haven’t been as good to them as they have to you?
I look younger than my age in years, partly because I have a young-looking face, but also because I work out, watch what I eat, and haven’t spent time in the sun so my skin looks good. When people compliment me about how good I look or how young I look, I thank them, and if they look good too, I return the compliment.
Gentle Reader: Contrary to common expectations about high school reunions, participants are not required to appraise one another.
The real purpose of reunions is to allow everyone the opportunity to upgrade the impression he or she left years ago. So if someone compliments you, Miss Manners recommends that after you accept graciously, you provide the desired opening by saying: “How wonderful to see you. I’d love to catch up.”
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, firstname.lastname@example.org; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.