Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Name Game

When we began having children, we had to tackle the question regarding how our children should address adults. Many of our adult friends wanted children to call them by their first names. (I’ve noticed that a majority of those people are also Baby Boomers.) We decided, however, that we wanted our children to use a title in addressing adults. For the most part, adults were Mr. or Mrs. Last Name. (We made exceptions for our very close friends like Hope and Theresa whom I’ve known forever. They are honorary family, so we didn’t require quite the same level of name respect.) We knew that we were considered old fashioned, but the policy seemed to work well for us.

On the flip side, we also asked to be addressed as Mr. and Mrs. Byrne by the many youth that we worked with. Consistency is important in raising kids. No sense in requiring them to say Mrs. Smith while allowing Mrs. Smith’s kids to call me Lyrel. Again, it worked for us. I don’t mind the “old fashioned” moniker for this issue.

Fast forward to present day Charlotte Hall. This is a rural village located in the outskirts of a major metropolitan area. I don’t work with youth here, but I’ve encountered quite a few adults. I’ve noticed that many of those adults insist on calling me Mrs. Byrne even after I’ve pronounced my first name for them. I’m not talking about one or two people. It’s the culture here. In fact, I’m working with a fencing contractor right now who refers to himself only as Mr. Jones. I don’t know what his first name is. He always calls and says, “This is Mr. Jones of Jones Fence.”

Suddenly, I’ve gone from being old-fashioned to progressive without even changing my views! (Sounds a little like a political race, don’t you think?) I don’t know if this approach to names is localized to my village or region or if it extends beyond and is an East Coast thing. Maybe most of the country is this way and only Seattle (or more likely, the entire West Coast) is progressive.

It’s a weird transition. Just as my adult children’s friends are starting to call me Lyrel, my new adult acquaintances are calling me Mrs. Byrne. Either way, I suppose it’s better than, “Hey, You!”

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