Let me just start off by saying I love my in-laws but sometimes I seriously question whether or not they get me and my Latina culture. So I am completely annoyed with the fact that my mother-in-law refers to my husband’s dad – who we are teaching my son to call grandpa – as “poppy” when he is obviously not. You see in Latino culture, as if you did not already know, we reserve the “papi” title for our beloved fathers. And because I married un gringo, over the years we have both come to realize that there are definite cultural differences. Though most are minor things, the fact that I cannot fathom hearing grandpa being called “poppy,” makes this the issue we are currently dealing with.
To my husband it makes no difference and he continues to tell me that I am overreacting. It is true that every time my mother-in-law accidentally slips with calling grandpa “poppy” I pout and get up on my soapbox to tell them yet again my grievances with this. Now am I being over-sensitive? Perhaps; but it just feels wrong and rude to me. Lord knows how many times I have tried to explain this to my in-laws and yet continue to get the whole eye-rolling bit. I tell them, “Papi is a term used for dads. To me it’s insulting to continue referring to someone, family or not, as the dad when they are clearly not.” It’s like when I was told I could refer to a friend’s mother as “mom” because all the other kids did. Are you kidding me? If my mamí ever heard me utter those words to someone other than her she would surely lose it because it is completely disrespectful to her. I can’t even begin to imagine what my mamí would say if she ever heard them call my father-in-law “papi.” I can guarantee they would probably never make that mistake again around her.
Often times we can confuse something that we have learned from our parents and believe it to be a “cultural thing” when in fact it was a “family thing.” I have been told by other Latina friends that this is what they believe to be in my case. I tend to disagree. Either way the debate still continues in our household but I am determined to make sure that they respect my wishes. And when that day comes I will do a happy dance, take a deep breath and prepare myself for the next battle…trying to explain to them that not all Latinos are required to have accents.
by Jennifer Salazar Hutcheson