I remember the first time somebody called me miss. I think I was about 19 at the grocery store and I almost turned around to see if they were talking to the lady behind me. It made me feel so old.
Among my friends in Wisconsin, when we talk about each other to our kids we always use the Miss or Mr. before our first names. Somehow using last names seem so formal and stiff. I was calling them by their first names so maybe my kids could too but the miss or the Mr. made it seem appropriately respectful.
I kind of forgot about that living here for the first couple of years. I started noticing my kids referred to the other parents just by their first names. In fact at their school they call their teachers only by their first name. Not even a Ms. And with all of society seeming to go more informal every day, this seems like the natural progression of things. But I still yearn for a little sign of respect for adults, even in a mediocre attempt by my kids.
Encouraging them to speak Spanish, it just seemed too strange to request that they refer to my friends as Señor and Señora. I do not hear anybody else using these terms, adult or child. Nobody calls anyone else Señor or Señora unless you are at a restaurant or some sort of service counter and somebody’s trying to be nice to somebody who is elderly. Certainly didn’t seem appropriate for people my age. Literally I’ve been called joven may times (young). The bank teller said, “gracias joven” when I handed her something. The homeless guy did too! Bless them. Joven! So, if I’m not a señora but I want my kids to show people my age respect…
I consulted some of my friends.
And they most certainly don’t want to be called Señor or Señora! haha. It would make them feel too old and stuffy. One of my friends said as a child she had to refer to her parents friends with the title of Doña (madam). She wasn’t even allowed to look at her parents’ friends in the eye. Kids were expected to look down and only talk if they were directly addressed by the other adult. We are well past that day and age in 2018.
I always addressed my friends parents by their last names when I was young. I still do!
I have many professor friends at the local university. The tell me their students are quite informal with them too. And one was amazed when a student greeted her with a “Hey”! My sister’s university demanded that she remain Dr. Malischke and never just LisaMarie. Maybe they saw this trend too.
So my solution is to have my kids refer to my friends as Ms. and Mr. en inglés. It’s the right mix of formal but not too formal. Don’t know if it’ll catch quickly. My kids kinda look at me funny when I tell them to say Ms. Norma or Mr. Sean. They don’t even use that for their teachers at school. But eh, a mama can try.