Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"Miss" Communication

I'm not sure if I've blogged about this before.. so if I HAVE.. just stop reading and leave me a comment to let it go already.

ANYWAYS. y'all know we live in the south. There's many things about the south that I love (lower cost of living, mild winters, slower pace.. to name a few) and y'all KNOW there's things I DON'T like (that whole rebel-flag-the-south-will-rise-again mentality, general accepted belief of women's places, subtle and unspoken prejudice (as well as NOT so subtle) towards people not male, white, christian, and of certain pedigrees... to name a few)

But the south I live in is a self-proclaimed NEW SOUTH. One where 'that' kind of behavior is no longer acceptable and one of a melting pot which welcomes northern transplants for reasons extending beyond culture and economic infusions. Still.. some old habits die hard.

One habit in particular (that I thought was once a VERY southern tradition) seems to be popping up all over the place in our society. and it irks me.

Hi. My name is Carrie Johnson. I'm married, so I ALSO go by Mrs. Carrie Johnson. but apparently, to any child under the age of 20, it has been deemed socially correct to call me MISS Carrie.

not Mrs. Johnson... not Ms. Johnson... MISS Carrie. (and let's not even get me started about how creepy "MR. Troy" sounds to me. seriously.)

again.. I GET the whole nod to southern culture and the Driving Miss Daisy and that really, it IS a way of showing respect... but still. enough already!

The problem, too, is that I'm seeing it happen in other states as well. I guess I just don't understand why.. if you CAN teach a child to say Miss or Mister... followed by a first name... why can't you teach them a last name? and MRS? what's so DAMN hard about Mrs.???

Don't get me wrong.. I've allowed Rhena to use Miss So-and-So when addressing someone. and we have our own little system that we call certain friends "Aunt" and "Uncle" when they are every bit as close as family. Let's face it.. if you buy my kids better presents than *I* do most times, chances are they call you their aunt or uncle. but that's another subject.

I DID begin rhena's playgroups with allowing her to call people by Miss or Mr. "First Name Here". but that was when she was Danny's age and understanding words but not saying them. However, when she began school, THANKFULLY, her teachers and the staff at the preschool go by Mrs. or Ms. "Last Name Here". It opened the door for me to start teaching Rhena the proper way to address adults.

Now that the door is open, I'm keeping it open, and have been teaching Danny from the get-go to use Mr., Mrs. and Ms. "Last Name Here". and SURE there are certain names that a child just simply can NOT pronounce or come close to being able to remember. I should know! My last name was Czernikowski! In those cases, a "Mrs. C." would suffice.

Of course.. it's tough when a dance class uses Miss "first name here" and our friends have their children call us Miss Carrie and Mr. Troy. (cringe!) but given the chance and choice.. I present myself and insist my children use last name addressing.

I suppose my big question is WHY? WHY do we as a society find it necessary to drop the formality? Are we as adults trying that hard to be more approachable to children? Are we afraid to command respect AS adults? Maybe it's just me?

Again.. it doesn't bother me AS much when a 2 or 3 year old who is barely understanding sentence structure calls me Miss Carrie. but a 5 year old? 7 year old? 13 year old? I'm not your friend, kid. I'm your neighbor, your teacher, your babysitter, and quite possible a stranger. Without a DOUBT I'm at least 2 decades your senior, so how about you treat me with some respect? I really do think I at least deserve that.

One final note for my stepford lurkers... if your kids call me Miss Carrie.... that's fine. well, I mean.. I'll still cringe inside a little... but chance are if I didn't think you were raising your child to understand what respect is, your kid wouldn't GET many chances to call me "Miss Carrie". So don't take it personal. I'm just talking about a pet peeve of mine, ok? in other words.. we're still good. oh, and one more thing? just, uh.. don't get mad at me if I correct your kid in a year or two. ;)



Angela said...

I am trying to figure out the same thing- but since Jackson is still under two, we are going with the Miss and Mr First Name. That is how his sitter refers to herself, so I just followed suit.

It just doesn't seem right to have him address adults with just their first names- not respectful enough.

I promise I will teach him to say Mrs. J to you though! ;-)

Katy said...

I was actually just discussing this issue with Mike the other day. We call our neighbors by their first names and Dylan has followed. I feel guilty that I didn't teach him Mr & Mrs last name to begin with. Is it too late?

I appreciate you bringing it up!

Carrie said...


I had to do some back-tracking with Rhena. I just sat her down one day and told her that she was going to get to be a big girl and speak to adults the way the kids that go to school do. you know.. tried to make it more like it's an honor to GET to call someone mr/mrs/ms last-name.

but that worked for us cause she's SO INTO being like the big kids. I think that if you made it into some type of reward for Dylan and made it special just for him (because he's 3 1/2, because he's turning four... because he did whatever...) call it practice for kindergarten?

it has taken a lot of prompting and coaching on our parts, but I'm noticing rhena's getting the hang of callign the neighbors by their proper names now. and I firmly believe that Cam will follow suit just by association of hearing Dylan use the names.

maybe other adults don't feel the same way I do; I realize I'm old school like that... and I certainly don't expect my neighbors kids to call me mrs johnson because MY kids call their parents mr and mrs last-name. cause it IS such a grey area type thing for the age of children we have.

I will stay my ground though when it comes to school-age children addressing adults in a classroom or other professional situation. In my CCD class I introduce myself and my partner to our kids as Mrs Johnson, and address their parents as Mrs and Mr last-name to be consistent with the tone and message I'm trying to send.

padrino1818 said...

ok you ol' stick in the mud. I promise my kids will only call you Mrs. Johnson from now on. I just can't promise they'll know who I'm talking about if I call you that. (personally, it's just a simple matter of not wanting to be called the same name as my mother-in-law, but also not just by my first name. I know that will change as me and my kids get older though.)

Marianna said...

Ok, I guess I'll be the odd-woman-out here. I guess I've lived in the south too long because I don't find it odd that kids call you Ms Carrie.

Maybe I need to move up north again... LOL.

Actually, I saw it in Washington State when I was there too, come to think of it. Ms Carrie. Ms Marianna. I guess it's just more common now...


Cathy said...

Hmmm....Quinn calls all of my friends by their first name - no Miss or Mr. in front and definitely not by their last name with a Miss or Mr.
Now his preschool teacer was Miss. Amanda, by her choice. In my preschool classroom my students call me Mrs. (my last name).

Kelli said...

I'm torn on this one. Being a preschool teacher, where I am called Ms. Kelli, and from the south, I guess this just seemed appropriate.
Mrs. Whelan sounds SOOO formal, and frankly, that's my mother-in-law. I really am torn. We have a friend that makes her daughter call me Mrs. Whelan and that to me just sounds so old.
I am all about the kids respecting adults, though, and teach my kids to say yes ma'am and sir. Which is also very southern, I know.

Mom2Amara said...

I honestly was just debating this with Dad2Amara last week.

Amara used to be introduced to adults as Miss [insert first name here] or Mr. [insert last name here]. I don't know why. But that's what we did.

But now, it's always Miss, Mr., or Mrs. [last name].

It was an age thing for me. Once she hit school age, last name became the norm.

So I have no theory or reasoning. Just something we did.

Even though Amara's never been introduced to you, I apologize now :)