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Paige: You are listening to Coffee with Gringos. I'm Paige Sutherland.

Mariah: And I'm Mariah Wika. Welcome back to the podcast. This week, the theme of the pod is family. So, Paige and I will talk a little bit about our families, our childhood, and hopefully it will give you the vocabulary that you need to be able to talk about your own family. So, remember, if you get lost along the way, the transcript and vocabulary guide are on the website to help you out.

Paige: Okay, so to start, Mariah. Tell me a little bit about how you grew up. I mean, we've been hosting this show for months now, and we've never really talked about your childhood.

Mariah: That's true, that's true. So, as many of you know, because we mention it all the time. I'm from Minnesota. I was born in Virginia, but I grew up in Minnesota, so I spent almost all of my childhood in Minnesota. I grew up in a pretty quiet suburb near Minneapolis, and it was a great childhood. I have two sisters. I have an older sister and a younger sister. I'm the middle child.

Paige: Uh oh!

Mariah: Uh oh. I know. What does that even mean?

Paige: Well, according to your zodiac sign... just kidding.

Mariah: Uh yeah, so, it was the three of us girls and my parents, and we were fortunate to live relatively close to grandparents as well. We spent a lot of time outside. We played together a lot. My mom stayed home with us for the first part of my childhood, and so we were fortunate to have a lot of time with her. Yeah, it was a great childhood!

Paige: So, going back a little... the stereotypes of siblings is that if there's three of them, the first one is the firstborn, the oldest.

Mariah: Right, the responsible one...

Paige: The middle one is usually the one that gets a little less attention.

Mariah: They're the wild card.

Paige: They're the wild card. Exactly.

Mariah: Although, I would say that the stereotypes for middle children go two ways. You're either the wild card, you get less attention, you're the "neglected middle child" is what we say. Or, you're the peacemaker. You're the peacemaker, and you try really hard to keep your family together, and I think that I'm a little bit of a wild card in my family, but I also do try really hard to do the peacemaking responsibilities.

Paige: And then the youngest is the baby.

Mariah: The youngest is the baby... and the rebel...

Paige: Yeah, usually they... like you said, maybe get in more trouble because...

Mariah: The youngest can get away with murder.

Paige: Exactly. And again, these are all stereotypes, so. But, that is usually what people think about that.

Mariah: Okay Paige, how about your childhood? And make sure to tell us where you are in the birth order.

Paige: Yes, so, as you all know... like Mariah said, we've talked about it. I'm from Boston. But technically from a suburb, so I grew up about 45 minutes north of the city. So, it was a very, very small town. We had one gas station, a pizza shop... I lived across the street from my elementary school.

Mariah: No way! That's convenient!

Paige: So it was very, very small... suburbs. I'm the youngest, so I'm the baby. My sister is two and a half years older than me. So, I only have one sister.

Mariah: Do you fit your stereotype of the youngest, the baby?

Paige: No, I don't. My sister is a wild card, to put it. And so, growing up, she was the oldest, I was the youngest, but then kind of as we got into our adult phase of life, we kind of switched. Where I'm seen as the oldest I think in the family.

Mariah: Interesting, yeah!

Paige: Yeah, so we kind of switched roles a little bit. So I don't take on the baby stereotype. So, yeah, I grew up with my mom and my dad. They both worked full-time growing up, but they had opposite schedules, so my dad worked nights, and my mom worked during the day. So, I would have dinner with my mom and have breakfast with my dad.

Mariah: Ohhh, that's pretty cool!

Paige: So, it was strange in that aspect that they didn't need a nanny or a babysitter because there was always a parent, but they were...

Mariah: They were opposite.

Paige: Yeah, they were opposite.

Mariah: We've talked about our nuclear families. Now, how about your extended family? Do you have a big family?

Paige: I don't have that big of a family. My mother has two siblings, so I have one uncle and one aunt, and they each have two kids. So, I have four first cousins on my mother's side. And on my father's side, my dad has two younger brothers, and they each have two kids as well. So, I have two uncles on my dad's side and then four first cousins.

Mariah: Right, right, so it's not a huge family.

Paige: It's not a big family. And then of course you have all the other second, third cousins that you see intermittently. What about you?

Mariah: It's similar for me. My mom's side is a relatively small family. I just have four first cousins. My dad's side is a little bit more complicated, and there are more cousins on my dad's side. But yeah, we aren't a huge family, but I'm fortunate because all of my grandparents are still alive. I actually had two great-grandmothers up until this year. My great-grandmother on my father's side passed away at age 99. She was one day short of 100, which I think we can count it. And the other one passed away at 102.

Paige: Wow! Good genes!

Mariah: I know. I need to eat my vegetables and keep exercising because it looks like I could live for a while. But, that's something cool I think about our family though is that we've been fortunate enough to grow up with our grandparents.

Paige: And you have... your oldest sister got married recently, so you have a brother-in-law.

Mariah: I have a brother-in-law. Yeah, they don't have kids yet, but they have a very beloved dog. But yeah, I've had a brother-in-law for a little over a year, so that was kind of funny in my family because we're accustomed to being three girls, right? Just the daughters. And so, we had to welcome a guy to the family! But he's great. It was a good change.

Paige: Are you excited to have potential nieces and nephews?

Mariah: Oh yeah! Absolutely. I'm very excited to be an aunt someday. You are not an aunt?

Paige: I am not, no. My sister is engaged, but not married. So I have no brother or sister-in-law and no nieces or nephews yet. But, very much looking forward to it someday.

Mariah: I'm going to be the coolest aunt. It's my goal.

Paige: It's definitely one of the best jobs to have because you get all the perks of being a parent without all the responsibility. So, you get to be the cool aunt that brings them candy and lets them stay up late and watch movies, and then when they get tired, you pass them off to their parents for damage control.

Mariah: Exactly. So, we've talked a lot about the nuclear family and the extended family, but we all know that families are not always y'know, the traditional family tree, right? With mom and dad and kids, and families change, and that definitely is something that's true these days.

Paige: For instance, my parents are divorced, and so I have a step-father who I've known for ten years know. My dad has a girlfriend, not a step-mother yet.

Mariah: Do you have step-siblings?

Paige: I do not, no. But my boyfriend's parents are divorced. They divorced when he was probably four years old.

Mariah: Really young, yeah.

Paige: They both remarried, so he has a step-mother, a step-father, and then two half-siblings... so a half-sister, which means it's his mother's daughter, but the step-father's daughter. And then the half-brother, so his dad's son, but the step-mother's son. It's interesting. He has kind of the 21st family.

Mariah: The 21st century family.

Paige: Right, where it's not what it used to be. It's changing now.

Mariah: Right, exactly. Which I think is cool that that's become more and more normal. The family doesn't look like the four person family with the white-picket fence and that's just not necessarily realist of how families look now! And another thing that Paige and I were talking about is the language that we use to talk about partners, where you can say boyfriend, you can say girlfriend, husband or wife if you're married. But there are also gender neutral terms. If you're married, you can say your spouse. Or, you can say your partner. And you can actually say your partner at any stage of your relationship. Fiance is a gender neutral term when you're engaged. Because, you know, of course, marriage and dating are not confined by gender, and so that's definitely been reflected in language and how that's changing as well.

Paige: Well now that you know a little bit more about how me and Mariah grew up, I mean as you know, we've been away from our families... for Mariah a year and a half. Me... nearing on a year now. It feels good to talk about our families since we're so far, and it really is who we are. I mean, we spent most of our lives with these people. They're the people we care about.

Mariah: Right, whether you have a huge family or a tiny family, or you know, two families... it's important that you're able to explain where you came from. And hopefully, next time somebody asks you about your family, you can use some of the vocabulary that we practiced today. Thanks again for listening, and we'll talk to you soon!


Childhood (noun) - the time of being a child

Example: Mariah spent almost all of her childhood in Minnesota.

*To be born - remember to always use TO BE with the verb born, usually I was born...

Example: I was born in Virginia.

Grow up (phrasal verb) - the process of maturing from child to adult

Example: Paige grew up in a very small town.

Suburb (noun) - a residential district outside of the city

Example: Paige and Mariah both grew up in suburbs.

Siblings (noun) - a gender neutral term that includes both sisters and brothers

Example: I have four siblings, three sisters and one brother.

Middle child (noun) - the child in between older and younger siblings

Example: Mariah has an older sister and a younger sister. She’s the middle child.

Parents (noun) - gender neutral term for the primary people who raised you (NOT fathers)

Example: Both of her parents worked when she was a child.

Grandparents (noun) - gender neutral term for the parents of your parents

Example: She grew up with her grandparents.

Wildcard (noun) - a person who is very unpredictable

Example: One stereotype for middle children is that they’re wildcards and do unpredictable things, compared to the other kids.

Peacemaker (noun) - a person who tries to unite people and make peace

Example: The other stereotype for the middle child is that they try to be the peacemaker between the other siblings.

Rebel (noun) - a person who resists authority and control

Example: The stereotype is that youngest children are often rebels and like to break rules.

Get away with murder (phrase, informal) - do anything without consequences

Example: Youngest children can get away with murder!

Switch (verb) - to trade from one place to the other

Example: Paige feels like she and her sister switched roles. Even though Paige is the youngest, she feels like the oldest!

Nanny (noun) - a person who does (usually) full-time childcare for a family

Example: Paige’s family didn’t need a nanny because her parents worked opposite schedules, and somebody was always at home with her and her sister.

Nuclear family (noun) - only your parents and your siblings

Example: There are five people in my nuclear family - two parents and three kids.

Extended family (noun) - your larger family that includes grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.

Example: She has a huge extended family because her parents both have many siblings.

Cousins OR first cousins - your parents’ siblings’ children *cousins is a gender neutral word!

Example: Paige only has four first cousins on her mom’s side.

Great-grandmother/great-grandfather (noun) - your grandparents’ parents

Example: Mariah’s great-grandmother lived until she was 102 years old!

Pass away (phrasal verb) - to die

Example: Her great-grandmother passed away this year.

Brother-in-law/Sister-in-law (noun) - the person who your sibling is married to

Example: Mariah’s older sister got married, so she has a brother-in-law named Rob.

Niece/nephew (noun) - your siblings’ female children OR your siblings’ male children

Example: I don’t have any nieces or nephews yet, but I’m excited to be an aunt someday!

Perks (noun) - advantages

Example: Being an aunt is definitely one of the best jobs to have because you get all the perks of being a parent without all the responsibility.

Divorced (adjective) - describes two people whose marriage has ended

Example: Paige’s parents are divorced.

Remarried (adjective) - to describe people who have gotten married again after being divorced

Example: Paige’s mom is remarried, so Paige has a stepfather

Stepfather (noun) - the husband of your mother, NOT your biological father

Example: Paige’s mom has been married to Paige’s stepfather for many years.

Stepmother (noun) - the wife of your father, NOT your biological mother

Example: Paige’s dad has a girlfriend, but she’s not Paige’s stepmother yet.

Half-brother/half-sister (noun) - a brother or sister with whom you only share one parent

Example: His dad got remarried and had two more kids, so he has two half-brothers.

Spouse (noun) - gender neutral term for husband or wife

Example: She lives with her spouse and three children.

Partner (noun) - gender neutral term for your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, or wife

Example: He’s been with his partner for six years.

Engaged (adjective) - committed to get married to somebody

Example: They got engaged recently, and they’re planning to get married next year.

Fiance (noun) - a gender neutral term for the person you’re engaged to

Example: They got engaged recently, and now she’s her partner’s fiance!