He stepped into my kitchen and extended his hand. I smiled and greeted him. While shaking his hand I glanced around the room.
My son was surrounded by his friends. Some he hadn’t seen since they all scattered for college nearly a year ago. They resembled the boys he hung out with in the past, only taller, with deeper voices, and facial hair. But this one I had never met. So he introduced himself.
“I’m John,” he said.
“I’m Miss Lisha,” I replied. But the sound of that name felt strange.
I realize that naming traditions and salutations vary in different places, so let me explain how we do it here. In the South, most adults are referred to as “Mister” or “Miss” followed by their first name. “Miss Lisha” has been the name my sons’ friends have called me for their entire lives. It always seemed right.
During our years in the military, my husband and I were referred to by our surname, his salutation preceded by his rank, mine my “Mrs.” In those circles, it seemed right.
But this felt strange. What do I call myself to my grown sons’ friends?
This is new territory for me, and I’m not really sure how to handle it.
If I were meeting this young man in the workplace I would have introduced myself as “Lisha” without hesitation. But he was part of my son’s posse, and that made it feel different. In this setting, it almost felt a bit creepy, a bit too familiar for a personal introduction.
Now, I’ve never had any hang-ups about titles or formalities. To be honest, the whole “Mrs. Fink” thing makes me feel either antiquated or pretentious. I accepted it as part of our military lifestyle, but I much prefer “Miss Lisha.” It’s my “mom title.” Which is, after all, how I’ve defined myself for over two decades.
But now, with grown kids, who am I?
Miss Lisha? Lisha? I don’t know. Perhaps it’s time for a cool nickname so I can avoid the whole thing.
I want my boys to continue to use these “courtesy titles” with the adults they have known since childhood. Neighbors, mothers and fathers of their friends, even teachers with whom they still keep in touch. It’s a sign of respect – for them and for our traditions. But what about new introductions?
I guess I’m going to have to give this some time. I should probably take the lead from the kids young adults themselves. It’s new territory for them, too.
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This is right on the money! Our family background (German) had us calling grown-ups Mr. and Mrs. (or Herr and Frau) ____ if they weren’t close family friends and Aunt and Uncle (Tante and Onkel) _____ if they were. Generally speaking, when kids are young, even the family doctor is Onkel Dr. ______. When my son was little, his friends’ parents all introduced themselves to the kids by their first names. Our neighbours down the street, however, maintained their Mr. and Mrs. status, while our next-door neighbours, a couple with a granddaughter the same age as BoyGenius, were thrilled when I suggested they get Onkel and Tante.
It’s hard to know what is right until you figure out what FEELS right. At BG’s school I mostly go by my first name, but even some of the older kids (grade 7 & 8) just call me “BG’s mom” and those who know us well know that I am “BG’s Mama” while HardWorker is “BG’s Mommy”. And neither one of us is Mrs. anything! 🙂
It seems to be a little different for everyone. We always (and only) referred to adults by their first name with “Mr.” or “Miss.” Only teachers (and my dad’s boss!) were called by their surnames when I was growing up.
What matters more is the respect given, not the name called. Thanks for joining the conversation!
Maycee’s close friends call me by my first name, and I totally don’t mind because it’s how they behave that shows me respect verses what name they use. However, in school they enforce Mr., Mrs., or Miss for the teachers and campus staff, which I think is appropriate. Some of Maycee’s peers at the school call me “Maycee’s Mom” when I arrive to pick her up, as in, “Hi, Maycee’s Mom!” because they don’t know my first OR last name. I think it’s cute, and I always wave, smile, and say “hi” back! Interesting blog post, Lisha! Great to read here again! XOXO-Kasey
Howdy, Kasey! I’m happy to be back! I completely agree, it’s all about the respect. And I think “Maycee’s Mom” is an awesome nickname. One you get to keep forever. ❤
First of all, Mrs. Swanson is my mother-in-law, not me. An occasional doctor gets a pass, but no one else. Many years ago, a student hung “Kaybelle” on me, and it stuck for that crowd. My strategy with young adults is to refer to myself as Kay and answer to whatever they call me. But my favorite by far is what my daughter’s boyfriend calls me–Mama Kay. From him, it seems just perfect.
I still use “Kaybelle” in my head when I see you. 🙂
Love the story!
Thanks, Charleene! In our early Army days I had a really tough time with the whole “Mrs. Fink” thing. It was like nails on a chalkboard to my ears. But like most things, I got used to it.
Thanks for stopping by!
I’ve been thinking about this one, too. Most of my kids friends have know me since they were small and I was always “Mrs. L.” or “Aunt Mary” to those in her close circle because one of those girls happened to be my real niece and the others picked it up. I was fine with both. Then, a few years back, some of the older members of our 4-H group starting calling me by my first name. I was caught off guard at first. I didn’t make a big deal of it, though it’s still awkward for me to hear at times. I agree with “Miss Pepper”, I think it often depends on the relationship when young people become adults. For some, I will always be Mrs. L, for others, like the adult friend from my daughter’s school that will be visiting in a few weeks, I’m guessing I’ll be Mary.
I think it felt a bit anachronistic for me, because they were in my house. A dozen boys and a girl or two watching tv, eating snacks. It felt like it did when the back yard was full of kids bouncing on the trampoline and climbing the oak tree. Now that I’m thinking about it, it won’t catch me off guard again.
Thanks for joining the chat, Mary!
My kids’ friends all call me by my first name. Now that they’re adults, too, it would just make me feel really old if they referred to me as “Mrs!” So glad you’re writing again, Lisha! (Or Miss Lisha or whatever you’d like to be called!)
This is tricky territory, so I decided to allow the relationship rather than the age to dictate what I’m called. My children’s (young adult) friends call me Miss Pepper, yet my (young adult) assistant calls me Pepper.
Miss Pepper, I wholeheartedly agree!
Lois, you made me think of this! Who remembers this one??