Hey Kids...Sorry, But That's Not My Name

by Stacy Graebner
Originally Published: 

I realize the world is changing. I try to be open-minded. I’m aware that social media and texting are making communication more #informal (#iGetIt) and that the rules of etiquette are evolving in such a way that our social graces are becoming…what’s the word? Anemic? Nonexistent? No…wait, um…CASUAL…that’s the word I was looking for.

In general I’m a fan of things that are casual:

I love casual Fridays.

I love casual jeans.

I love casual dining.

I love(d) casual dating.

There are actually a lot of benefits to living in a casual world. We can cut to the chase, move past silly pleasantries and get “real” with each other faster than ever before. (And by real I mean we can start getting annoyed and impatient with each other and you can start sharing your fries with me.)

However, a part of me still longs for good ol’ fashioned old school etiquette, especially when it comes to the way children interact with adults. In fact, one of my biggest pet peeves is children addressing adults by their first names. Although this is fairly commonplace where we live, even after 12 years of parenting I still can’t get used to it. It just feels kind of…wrong…like wearing black underwear with white pants, or ordering a steak at a sushi restaurant.

To make matters worse, my name is Stacy so every time a child refers to me by name I hear that song by The Ting Tings in my head:

“They call me hell.

They call me Stacey.

They call me her.

They call me Jane.

That’s not my name.

That’s not my name.

That’s not my name.

Trust me, once that song is stuck in your head, your day is ruined.

I often wonder if I’m in the minority feeling uncomfortable with this trend. Many parents say they prefer being on a first name basis with their kids’ friends because being addressed as “Mr.” or “Mrs.” reminds them of their parents. Or Ward and June Cleaver. Apparently being called “Greg” or “Christine” makes them feel youthful—kind of like shopping at Forever 21 or drinking a slippery nipple.

I agree that Mr./Mrs. does feel a bit dated, and I’m certainly not in a hurry to buy a porch rocking chair so I can yell at kids who accidentally lose a ball in my yard. So I’m left with a dilemma: What should my kids’ friends call me? Some people opt to add “Miss” or “Mr.” in front of their first name as a compromise, but “Miss Stacy” sounds too…I don’t know…sorority house circa 1985?

In an effort to bridge the gap between old school and hip, I thought about coming up with a rapper name for myself. Unfortunately, all the good ones seem to be taken. I did toy around with these for a short while, but none of them seemed like a good fit:

G-Diddy (too obvious)

Heavy G (too literal)

Icy-Heat (too aisle-6-of-CVS)

50 Scents (too menopausal)

Small Busted Rhyme (too depressing)

Ice Koffee (too suburban mom)

So then I started thinking of changing my name to a symbol, like Prince did in the ’90s. That way nobody would know what to call me. Think about it; nobody referred to Prince as anything for like, five years. I wouldn’t mind that, although I’m not sure what the symbol should be. Maybe a wine glass? A pair of readers? A silhouette of Spanx?

Although I’m still working out the details on an alternative name, the bottom line is that being on a first name basis with someone should be an honor reserved for one’s peers. There should be boundaries between kids and adults, because let’s face it, kids: While I think you are adorable and I enjoy your company, we are not friends. We are not friends because:

1. We are not going to hang out at a bar later.

2. I’m not going to ask you for your killer buffalo chicken dip recipe.

3. We are not going to swap stories about our spouses any time soon.

4. If we were friends, I’d need to get an Instagram account and learn how to use a selfie stick, and I’m not willing to go down that road.

So because rules can be confusing, here is a quick cheat sheet to be used when considering whether you should call me by my first name:

1. If you have voluntarily soiled your trousers in the past 10 years…it’s a big no.

2. If you are wearing an article of clothing from Justice…also no.

3. If you are on a travel soccer team…have a great season, but no.

4. If you consider Skittles a food group…yeah, no.

5. If you can recite more than 10 lines from a Minion movie….um, nope.

6. If you still order off the kids’ menu…pick no.

7. If your ticket was half off at Disney…it’s a magical no.

8. If you are wearing light-up sneakers…heck no.

9. If you are anxiously awaiting the arrival of Santa…ho ho no.

With thanks,

(The mom formally known as Stacy)

P.S. Please don’t be offended. I’m not even on a first name basis with my gynecologist, and we have spent quite a bit of quality time together (and by quality, I mean humiliating and disgusting).

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