Friday, December 5, 2008

Mrs. Scott D_____

Call me a traditionalist. Proclaim me as conventional. Declare me as old fashioned. But you know what?

I really like being called Mrs. D____. It's proper. It's grown-up. It indicates respect.

Ever since I can remember, I've dreamed of being Mrs. Someone-or-other. I couldn't wait to be a wife. How fortunate was I, then, to meet and fall in love with the man of my dreams at the age of 18? We got engaged eight months later and married as soon as I graduated from college. I was only 21 and I was a Mrs.!

But seriously, no one ever called me Mrs. D____. It was the '90's, after all, not the '50's. The grocery store employees didn't care to know me or my name. Nor did the librarians or the servers at the restaurants I frequented. Leave it to Beaver my life was not.

But then I had babies! I thought with glee, "Now someday their friends will call me Mrs. D____!" (I know, it's the small things that make me happy! LOL) Hayley and I joined a playgroup and as the babies began to toddle and chatter, we moms sat down to have a serious chat: what should the kids call us?

I was all for the Mrs. bit. All the other moms in attendance voted for Miss S0-and-So, though, and I thought it might be a bit confusing for the wee ones if I was the only mama being called Mrs. "Miss Kate" was alright, too. It didn't have the allure and maturity of Mrs. D____, but it was still respectful. It still separated the kids from the adults -- you know, the "respect your elders" theme.

Five years later we moved to the Chicago 'burbs and I joined another playgroup. At the ripe old age of almost three, Emma was the oldest (and only talking) kid in the group. She knew to call the other moms "Miss ___". So when their kids started chattering, they taught to call adults by "Miss" or "Mr." as well. (I love being a woman of influence!)

We moved again. And again. Seems no one was teaching their kids to address adults with a title anymore. Why? Is it the complete informality of the latest generations? Does it have to do with the familial parenting techniques that popular books purport? Or is it simply something that many parents don't think about or consider significant or worthy of teaching?

Is it providing just one more reason for young people to disrespect their elders? Why has respectful formality gone the way of white gloves?

Certainly it is every parents' prerogative to teach or not to teach their children to address their elders with respectful titles. And let me disclaim the fact that I know many wonderful parents who don't require this method of respect. I have absolutely no doubt that they are teaching their children to be well-mannered, responsible and respectful adults. Calling adults with a measure of formality is just not a priority for them. I respect that.

But having said that (famous last words, right?), it really bothers me when kids run around calling me simply "Kate". I just prefer a more traditional level of address, a more formal acknowledgment of respect.

(And I'll let you in on a little fantasy... I would love to live for a few weeks having to wear those white gloves and hats and floofy skirts. Where there are still drug store soda fountains and family-owned pharmacies. When dress making was inexpensive and movies were cheap and families sat around on the front porch. When mothers played bridge and had delicious, warm snacks ready for the children after school every day. Yes, again, please feel free to call me June. Except you kids. You have to call me Mrs. Cleaver!)

<--- Not so glamorous (I should have worn my pearls.)
The epitome of the 1950's mother --->

1 comment:

Mandajuice said...

This is one of those things I'm really bad about and I fault my own parents, who were WAY WAY TOO lax about manners and courtesy. I hate to think of all the people I've offended in my life because I just didn't know better.

The hard thing for me about teaching people to call me Mrs. Del Buono is that it means I'M THE GROWN-UP. When did that happen?