Back in 1974, when I thought my first husband really meant it when he said he was devastated by the loss of the kids, Dave and I talked about what kind of relationship he would have with Chris and Sarah. We were part way through the discussion about the relationship we would have with each other, so it seemed timely.
We decided that the kids would call him "Dave", which came easy, since that was already their practice, and that I would be the primary care-giver. We had already worked out that we were going to share bringing up the kids, but we wanted to do it in a way that was not disruptive, not threatening, but transparent and supportive.
I remembered how I used to call my dad "Billy" when I teased him or when I wanted him to know I loved him, even though we never said that to each other until I was about 40. I thought that was pretty sassy, but those were different times.
When Emily came along, she used either "Dave" or "Daddy" depending on who was in the conversation; then when Dave adopted the kids, there was a turn-around, and everyone started calling him "Dad". Looking back, we wish we could have seen the difference that seemed to make, particularly to Chris, but we hadn't, and we have to believe that whether our decisions proved right or wrong, we were making them in the right spirit. Anyway, that change seemed to make the adoption even more special and stood as a visual sign of our familiness.
Dave and I became grandparents when he was 48 and I was 55. I don't remember it being anything but joyful, except for the traumatizing (for me) moment, after Phoebe was born, when Dave shaved his beard and moustache and declared he was still "Dave". That's what all the grandchildren call him, with the exception of Robyn who warbles "Daaaaae" when she wants to melt his heart. Oh, and there's the other times when they call him "Dave-O", which is usually sung to the tune of The Banana Boat Song.