The royal we

August 26, 2010

I don’t think my husband and I are the only parents who referred to our baby in the first person plural (we need a change, I don’t think we like that), but the question is, now that she’s six, why can’t we stop?

The easy answer is that, because she can’t speak and she needs more care than most kids her age, we’re continuing to infantilize her.   That could be part of it, I guess, but I think the truth is more complex.

For one thing, there are regal implications of the royal “we.”  When the queen of England uses it (we are not amused), she is referring to both herself as a person and her separate role as head of state.  When we use it for Chloe, it seems to imply her role as the person around whom our family usually revolves.  So if “we” are ready to go to bed, Chloe herself is ready, but so is Chloe the organizing idea of our household unit.

Okay, but on a less pedantic level, I think it’s our way of acknowledging that we have to speak for Chloe a lot.  When one of us notices something that needs to be brought to the other’s attention, for example, if we’re sitting outside and Chloe is getting hot and uncomfortable, it seems a little rude to say “she’s hot, let’s go inside.”  Saying “we’re hot” as if you are including yourself, Chloe’s official spokesperson, as part of some kind of two-person organization founded solely to meet Chloe’s needs, well, it just feels better.

The downside is that we often end up sounding like the stereotypical annoying nurse who treats everyone like a baby in an attempt to sound caring (we’re recovering nicely from our prostate surgery, aren’t we!).  Hopefully, we will forgive us.


3 Responses to “The royal we”

  1. Marsha Says:

    Oh my gosh, I roared at this! Probably because the royal we has been spoken at our house too, and partially because the nurse “we” and therapist “we” has always made me smirk a little and one day, I decided to comment. Therapist to therapist, I said “so when you say “we were licking the ball” were you including yourself and if so how was it”? I silently roared and watched as the other therapist was not amused.

  2. karen Says:

    Found you through your comment at Mommy Wants Vodka and wanted to forward a link to you.

    I have a friend who has been taking the world by storm ever since her parents refused to institutionalise her back in the late ’60s. She was “non-verbal” and many “experts” expected not much of anything from her.

    I first met Glenda when we were 7 and newbies in Brownies. She loved Brownies, and I loved her.

    I also remember her mom using the royal We a lot.

    Anyway, and without further ado … here is my favourite post from my friend Glenda.

    (Don’t miss the video!)

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