Miss Jackson If You’re Nasty

I had a date with Annie, a girl I met on the internet, this week. We actually do have friends in common so it’s not quite as weird as it sounds and she didn’t turn out to be some kind of psycho so that was all good but that’s not why I mention it anyway so let’s move on here shall we?

I bring this playdate (we met at a park and brought the kids) up because early on in our visit her five-year-old son asked what my name was and Annie, fantastic gal that she is said “Ms Alison.” And that was when I knew that we were meant to be best friends. In fact earlier that morning when the Princess was asking me about Annie whom she knew only as the woman who had written a really funny book that she had read (by the way Annie writes great kids chapter books) she asked me what her name was. I initially told her Sister Tintle but that sounded weird enough to me that when the Princess gave me the stink eye I went with “Ms Annie.”

I can see that your mind is starting to wander so I’ll get to the point. What is with kids calling adults by their first names?

I realize that we live in a youth obsessed culture. There’s a great quote by Topher Grace in the extras on “Mona Lisa Smile” (yes, I watched the extras, I’m a loser) where he says that in making the movie he had to remember that unlike today when 40-year-olds want to be 20, back then 20-year-olds wanted to be 40. And it’s true. We all want to be younger (and skinnier and prettier…) but I have to draw the line at letting 5-year-olds call me Alison.

I can’t quite bring myself to demand they refer to me as Mrs. Wonderland, Ms Alison is fine. But there just has to be some kind of title there. I was in a primary once where the kids called the primary president by her first name!! Seriously?! Seriously. This is not OK.

We have this family friend who is sort of another grandma to our kids (as if they need another grandparent) and she’s wonderful and sweet and we love her to death but she encourages my kids to call her by her first name and I’m so not comfortable with that. In her case I don’t think it’s that she’s trying to be their age or anything (she’s 60 if she’s a day and the Princess is only 8 after all) I guess it’s a casual thing. I get casual, I’m nothing if not casual but there does need to be some formality somewhere.

My problem though is where to draw the line and how. I don’t make my children call their aunts and uncles aunt this or uncle that. Maybe I should. I guess the rule is adults to whom we are not related. I’m not sure they get the distinction, I’ve never spelled it out for them. And what do I do about their friends parents? Growing up, mostly in high school, I had a few friends whose parents asked or told me to call them Susie or Joe or what-have-you. Honestly I don’t remember what I did (although I do remember my father forbidding it). I think I just tried not to call them anything.

So what’s your rule? Is it anything goes? Do you think it affects kids views of adults and their views of their place in relation to adults?

Here’s one more thought that I had: The Princess has a lovely little friend who’s a Jehovah’s Witness. One day I overheard this friend explaining some doctrine to the Princess, something that she had obviously been taught and she was passing it on (as kids do). “It’s like, my name is Clair,” she said, “so I’d want you to call me Clair. And wouldn’t you rather I called you the Princess than Miss Wonderland?” And I thought Sure, she’d want you to call her the Princess but I’d want you to call me Ms. Wonderland.

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In other news: I spent $1200 on lumber yesterday so if you have any experience framing houses drop me a line will ya?

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11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. diana banana
    Jun 12, 2008 @ 07:51:28

    the laurel advisor in my ward taught the lesson on sunday and when referring to the leaders she would call us by our first names. this was while she was talking to the young women being taught the lesson. it totally bothered me. she’s young and maybe when she was in YW it was ok to call their leaders by their names…in utah it was, in virginia it wasn’t, so who knows.

  2. chronicler
    Jun 12, 2008 @ 09:04:28

    I think children need to be taught proper protocol. You certainly would want them meeting the governor or the president of the church and calling them by their first names. It isn’t stodgy or stuffy to teach children to be polite and this is exactly what this is. We have become too casual a society and it bugs me a lot. We accept a lack of respect as a lifestyle and nothing has any value. Not that calling something by its proper name gives it value, but people aren’t things and should have value.

    In our home, my children always called their aunts and uncles by Uncle Thor or Aunt s’mee. You see, we didn’t grow up with cousins, and having an aunt or uncle was special. So we made sure the titles were used. It made their aunts and uncles special to them, not just some random person in their lives. Now as they have children the aunt and uncles have become aunties and big uncles as additional term of endearment. Great grandparents have become poppa great or gramma great also.

  3. Catherine
    Jun 12, 2008 @ 09:16:05

    I go with Mrs. Wonderland, every time.

  4. Alison Wonderland
    Jun 12, 2008 @ 13:49:40

    Diana- I actually can handle that as long as it’s the leader. To me it’s along the same lines as calling Sean Sean when talking to the kids. They don’t call him Sean but I do. (I can’t get behind calling my husband Dad, I think that’s kinda creepy.) But she probably should gave gone with sister Banana, just to avoid confusion.

    Chronicler- That may be a better way, maybe that will be the new rule.

    Ok Cat- You can call me Mrs. Wonderland 😉 (Catherine’s my little sister.)

  5. bythelbs
    Jun 12, 2008 @ 16:57:13

    I actually think that this casual use of first names between children and adults has led to the general lack of respect that kids today seem to have for their elders. I’m amazed (and horrified) at what kids will say to their parents or their teachers or other grown ups in the neighborhood. There is no respect. Who was it that decided adults need to be a kid’s best friend and not an authority figure? That bugs.

    At church, my children are to address all adults with Bro or Sis so and so. They call close family friends by their first names, but other people’s parents they call by Mr. or Mrs. so and so. My kids don’t use the titles “aunt” and “uncle” much and I’m just a little bit sad about that. We did growing up, so I’m not exactly sure how that happened. Maybe because my kids weren’t the first bunch of nieces and nephews, so by the time my kids came around the precedent had already been set. Can I undo it? Hmmm…

  6. Jaime Fix (Ford)
    Jun 13, 2008 @ 12:15:30

    I’ve been stalking you silently for awhile now, but this is the post that drew me forward. How much time did I spend at your house? Probably more than I spent at my own house during those years I lived in Virginia. I don’t remember EVER referring to your parents directly simply because I didn’t know what to call them. I knew that you referred to all Church adults at Brother and Sister etc. and I was jealous because that seemed straight-forward, but I wasn’t a member so I felt like I couldn’t use those. I remember my mom being unwavering about kids calling her Mrs. Ford and me thinking she was terribly old-fashioned and being embarrassed.
    Because I’m a step mom and my own KIDS call me Jaime, that sort of made it even more strange to ask other kids to call me by Mrs. Fix. So, just Jaime I have become.

    I love how much you sound like the same person when I read your blog. I find comfort in the same sarcastic sassy girl I was drawn to in my formative years. I’ll go back to stalking silently again! Take care.

  7. Elizabeth
    Jun 13, 2008 @ 14:28:49

    Brent insists on Mr. or Mrs. Wonderland. But I actually think the JW friend is on the right track. The other day, I gave my friend’s little boy the speech about why certain things are rude. “It’s rude if it makes other people uncomfortable or hurts their feelings.” (He had been telling Christian that bragging was rude, but he didn’t know why.) I think most adults outside of the church are most comfortable with Mr. or Miss. first name. And it doesn’t really make sense to say “I’m showing you respect by calling you something that makes you feel uncomfortable.” And yet I haven’t ever been totally comfortable with Mr. or Miss first name. So in the church we do Bro. and Sis. but with non-member friends we are still up in the air.

    I actually don’t mind being C’s Mom.

  8. Alison Wonderland
    Jun 13, 2008 @ 19:28:46

    Jamie welcome! Don’t lurk, speak-up. It’s not like you’re shy.

    E- you make a really good point about what they’re comfortable with but I’m not entirely sure it’s a matter of being rude or not. I think there’s an aspect of making my kids show respect to adults whether the adult in question actually deserves it or not.

  9. Cat
    Jun 15, 2008 @ 09:04:00

    I can’t seem to get comfy with Mrs. B either, so I go by Ms. Kate (it’s Kate now- Cat was an unruly hooligan and I got rid of her for the most part!) with all our kiddo’s friends and the little ones I teach in our homeschooling co-op. When I introduce other adults to my children I use the more formal Mrs. Last-Name-Here until the adult specifies something different and if they say “Just call me First-Name-Here,” Then I correct myself and introduce them again, but with the “Ms. First-Name-Here” format. Aunts and uncles are “Aunt/Uncle First Name” with the exception of my wierdo baby sister who has the kids call her Tita. For me it’s all about tone. If a child uses a respectful tone when communicating with me that conveys the understanding of the general respect your elders concept, I’m happy.

  10. melanie
    Jun 16, 2008 @ 22:37:14

    I think Kay actually wants the kids to call her GradmaKay, at least that’s what she has said to my kids. I don’t think she is comfortable with just Kay but I might be wrong. So glad Jaime is lurking! Hey Jaime, how are things?

  11. Mother of the Wild Boys
    Apr 24, 2009 @ 20:08:20

    I wish more kids (including mine) would say ‘Yes Ma’am” and “No Sir” and stuff like that. We all did that in Texas, but nobody does that here. *sigh

    And I probably need to be more vigilant in the name/title dept. I usually just settle for ‘Ethan’s Mom’ (or Austin’s or Matthew’s).

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