I taught Sunday School for the first time today. I was really looking forward to it, ’cause, you know, kids are my jam. Well, there are only four kids in our church, so I figured it would be fun and relaxing. One of the kids came up to me first thing this morning and said, “What do you want us to call you?” and I said, “Just call me Janel.” “Miss Janel?” In which I replied, “Nooo, don’t call me Miss Janel!”
I don’t know what it is about the name “Miss Janel”…..wait, I do. There was a person way back in the day in my youth group that we all called Miss________ and it bothered me on so many different levels. So, I decided that I did not want that certain title for me. I would just go by Janel. No big deal, right?
Wrong. The mother of this child comes up to me and says, “I want the kids to call you Miss Janel, okay?” I told her I would think about it. And now, I feel very conflicted and a little annoyed. I completely understand why parents want their children to call adults by their title. In fact, I think that all parents should teach their children to do it. However, I truly feel like if that adult says, “Just call me by my first name,” then the child should respect that. It is, after all, my name. Don’t I get a say in what I am called?
When I was a kid, we had this family friend named Geoff. My parents kept telling me and my siblings that we had to call him Mr. Rayment, or Mr. Geoff, or something like that. But he insisted that we call him Geoff. I remember as a kid feeling like I was betraying my parents if I gave in to his insistence. I looked hesitantly at my dad, wondering who I should obey. It felt really uncomfortable from then on out what I called him, so my decision was pretty much to avoid calling him anything after that.
I would hate to put these kids in that position. Who should we obey: parents or the person to whom we are addressing? Personally, I plan on teaching my kids to always address someone by the most respectful title/name first, unless they give you permission to call them something else.
I don’t know…am I wrong? I ended up telling the kids that I strongly prefer to be called Janel, but if their parents insist that they call me Miss Janel, they should respect their parents. But even with that, it feels like I am selling out. I have always been the person who never wanted a nickname. I just love my name and don’t care for any deviations from it. To be honest, Miss Janel feels like a deviation.
*sigh* Help me out, folks…