What’s in a Name?

Okay, so I just came across yet another parenting article.  No issue in the child-rearing world seems to go untouched… every little thing apparently needs to be hashed out, which really makes me think I should get a gig writing for one these publications, because I could seriously give out some good advice.

But I digress.

The writer of this particular article takes issue with the fact that her kids’ friends call her by her first name.  In fact, her “biggest pet peeve” is any child calling any adult by their first name, which she apparently takes as a sign of grave disrespect.

She gets her point across in a joking manner, but makes her point just the same (which I can truly appreciate). What I found funny though is she doesn’t like the idea of being called Ms. or Mrs. either.  So what exactly is a child supposed to call her?  The author is unsure.  She just knows it shouldn’t be her first name only. A modern quandary indeed.

Personally I never had this problem when my children were very young. I didn’t have a name then, you see. I was simply Jacob’s mom and Sarah’s mom for the longest time.  As in, “Hey Jacob’s Mom, can Jacob come out and play?” Or “Hi Sarah’s Mom, can she go to the park with us today?”

When I eventually earned a name for myself, I requested they call me “Ms. Wendy.”  It was my choice, not theirs. I mean, kids won’t know what to call you unless you tell them, right?  One of my son’s friends (who has been around since forever) still calls me “Jacob’s Mom,” and does so with quite a bit of mutual humor and nostalgia. Would I ever consider him disrespectful?  Heck no!  The boy is a hoot.  Hearing “Hi Jacob’s Mom!” coming from a strapping 24-year-old as he yells across a crowded room without a care in the world is always comical to behold, and interesting to explain.

My view is, if you want to be called Mr. or Ms. or Mrs. insert first or last name here, then simply tell the child that so they know. Don’t leave them to their own devices or their own choices in the matter if you care that much about what you’re called. But don’t expect them to respect you simply because of what you choose to name yourself.  Respect isn’t a “given” based solely on a title.

Beyond the whole name dilemma, which each parent has to figure out for themselves (hopefully before the kids get to college), I did find one thing about the article that was disconcerting, in a sort of a red-faced, wow, okay, that sounds like me, kind of a way.

She did it to be humorous I’m sure (although probably serious too) but the author wrote out a detailed list of the reasons why she will never ever be friends with her children’s friends and therefore, why they can’t be on a first name basis.

The list consists of things that adults – that is to say, peers – wouldn’t or rather, shouldn’t, do, you see. And, I have to admit that I failed her list by half. That’s right. Half. So. No new friendship on the horizon for me. But that’s okay. I’m sure we’ll both survive.

When you think about it though, following Southern custom (calling on my family heritage here), the author would have to call me Ms. Wendy cause I’m older than her. (Okay, so I’m guessing here at her age, but it’s a good guess – her children must be young given the topic of the article and she knows who the hell The Tings Tings are and I suppose LIKES them since she knows the lyrics to their songs – all of which points to her being way younger than me.) BUT since I failed her test, I’d end up having to call her Ms. So and So or whatever it is she decides she wants to be called… this name game, it’s all so very confusing!

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18 thoughts on “What’s in a Name?

  1. We’re in the same boat! (Although we don’t know the name of the boat, either – could be the Good Ship Lollipop or the HMS Titanic.)

    I also am a “Kat’s Dad” type of guy to many of their friends.

    The one notable exception are The Boyfriends, especially the poor guy following around my youngest. I am ALWAYS “Mr. Willett” to him. I understand, been there, done that, but I’m not going to suggest anything different. I don’t see him being in the picture very long, but he’ll have to figure that out himself.

    • I hope, oh I do hope, it’s the Good Ship Lollipop! I would hate to think that we’re doomed. The Good Ship Lollipop always sounded like a fun place (if not drug induced). Oh, the poor guy (or maybe not??)! He hasn’t figured it out yet, huh? Oh well. All in good time… 😀

  2. Great thoughts here, Ms. Wendy. (You’re younger than me, I’m sure.) I agree that it’s is a hoot to be greeted with “Hi, Elisabeth’s Dad” by a 25-year-old friend in a social situation, for assuredly with our last name, that’s what I was called back in the day. I think it’s the way that the name comes from the heart to the mouth, not the name itself that matters. And I bet I’d fail the author’s test by way more than half if I clicked over.

    • Oh, like I’m going to tell now! 😀 Okay, fine, so skipping the trousers one… I will just say that I do know my Minions movies, light up sneakers are freakin’ cool, let’s face it, sometimes the mac and cheese on a kids’ menu is pretty damn appetizing, Christmas (along with Halloween, go figure) is my FAVORITE time of year and I admittedly await with bated breath the appearance of Santa Claus every single year at the end of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and in a word: Skittles. And although her list is slightly inaccurate (kids do not get in for half price at Disney), I in fact would through AARP discounts, of which I’m eligible as of this year (don’t judge!). LOL

  3. I always liked the Southern concept of putting Mr. or Miss in front of the older person’s first name. My kids’ friends call me Mr. Kevin, and that’s how I introduce myself to them. And let’s face it, if the adult isn’t going to take the initiative and give the kid some idea what they want to be called, how is the kid supposed to figure it out. When I was a kid most adults went by “Um, excuse me” unless they gave me some sort of indication what they wanted to be called.

    • Ha! “Um, excuse me…” I did that too as a kid. It was really amazing how many parents had the same name! 😀 Now, my parents’ friends on the other hand, they were all Mr. or Ms. insert first name here. Definite boundaries. It’s so true though, unless you tell the kid, they’re not going to know and then they’re either going to guess, or simply tug on your shirt-sleeve or mutter something under their breath (like the age old “excuse me”) hoping you’ll realize they’re talking to you.

  4. How true is all of THAT! Life has become so incredibly complicated that I’m surprised we can still feed ourselves without calling an expert to how to tell us how to do it. Insanity and such a waste of time.

  5. I had this nightmare growing up. What do I call my friends mums? My Mum wanted me to call them Mrs X or B, but that felt too formal with around my friends. I think I just squeaked as said, um, Can I have some water please! If I had kids, I’d get their friends to call X’s Mum, just like you and ‘Jacobs Mum’! Respect, but not stuffy!

    • My Mom never gave me a choice as to what to call her friends, so I called them what she told me to call them. LOL But as for MY friends’ moms, they were mostly “excuse me…” or as I got older and less shy, Ms. and their first name.

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