Miss Manners

Growing up I was forced to attend a class exclusively on manners. We did everything you would expect in a manners class including, I kid you not, walking with books on our head, while wearing frilly socks, no less. As a tomboy, I was horrified at this waste of Saturday mornings!

That said, I have finally reached the point where I can say, “Thank you, Mom, for making me do that.” I know what silverware to use when and how to hold polite conversations. Maybe I would have learned this all by osmosis at some point, but, it seems to me, things are headed in the opposite direction.

One of my biggest pet peeves of the moment is that people ask my kids to call them by their first names, not Mr. or Mrs. Smith, but Miss Kathy. Am I correct in assuming that this is inappropriate? I am not talking about close friends/godparents who go by Aunt/Uncle, but casual acquaintances that we meet for playdates. I generally try to jump the gun and introduce other moms to my kids by their proper names, such as, “This is Mrs. Smith.” But they often reply, “Call me Miss Cathy.” I just keep reminding my kids what other adults’ proper names are.

It is sometimes awkward that of the moms we meet with kids the same age are 15 years older than me. Sometimes I feel as if I should be addressing them by their proper names, let alone my children!

And it felt strange, at first, to have the 14 year old daughter of a friend calling me “Mrs. Incredible” given that I am closer in age to her than to her mother, but I now think that this is much more appropriate. I think addressing adults by their proper name cultivates respect and authority. Please tell me I’m being totally rational and polite!

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