Papa Can You Hear Me?

My step-dad Bob married my Mom and was all, “I’d really love it if you kids called me Dad”. And poor Bob didn’t know that the last thing you want to do when you become the patriarch of a household filled with 3 prepubescent pre teens and three full fledged teens is request that they call you Dad.

Especially when they’re Dad died and they’re already a little unsure about your coming into the family and forcing them to clean up after themselves.

Bob’s point of view was purely coming from a place of respect. Simply put, Dad is what you call the man who is married to your Mother and helps to care for the family in every sense of the word.

We pushed back. We would not call him Dad and his asking us to do so is one of the things that put a major hurdle in building a relationship with him in the beginning.

Bob negotiated, what if we called him Father? or Papa? Or…any kind of nickname that could set him apart from being just any other average man in our lives.

Bob wanted us to adopt him and we refused.

We could not say the word. It was a matter of loyalty to us and the title of father was all we had left to hold onto. We loved Bob, but we would not give it to him.

We giggled about his request behind his back, “Did Bob tell you he wants us to call him PAPA?” and then we would sing Barbara Streisand’s “Papa can you hear me?????” to one another and break into a fit of giggles.

I kind of hate that giggling teenager.


  1. says

    Hindsight is 20/20. I can remember saying stuff to a friend about how easy it was to size people up (back when I was in my early 20’s was when I said it). It makes me cringe now, to think how superior I thought I was.

    The older I get, the more I see that people who struggle have often been dealt a much tougher hand to play than I ever thought about having.

    It’s the folly of youth, I think, your reaction, and mine.

  2. says

    When I met my wife she already had two kids (one 12 the other 15). I never expected them to call me Dad, I just wanted to make sure we all got along. I was very surprised to get a Fathers day card several years later. It makes me realize that they did consider me like a father even though they knew full well I wasn’t.

  3. says

    I can only imagine how difficult that must have been. The words that struck a chord, “It was a matter of loyalty to us and the title of father was all we had left to hold onto.” Did he know that? He had to have understood that. Did you just call him Bob? The giggling, higher than thou teenager…I remember it…not the best part of that time period for anyone.

  4. says

    I was very young when my mom married my stepdad and I never knew my real father… most people never knew that he was my stepfather. A very different situation. To this day I cannot call my FIL dad… he’s always just (insert first name here)!!!