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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