Here is my quandary. My 3-year-old son has taken to calling me by my first name. I suspect he was up late one night and caught a viewing of To Kill a Mockingbird on AMC. But trust me, he’s no Scout. He doesn’t even own a pair of overalls, much less a giant papier-mâche ham.
I’m torn because of two reasons. First, it’s so damn cute. How can I correct him when I’m on the verge of a giggle fit whenever he does it? God forbid it happens while I’m drinking a glass of milk, because moo juice is going to come streaming out of my nose in a torrent equal in volume to the river Styx. And as fast as the downfall of the band Styx.
In contrast to the cuteness, I keep rerunning on my mental DVR the Brady Bunch episode #44 titled “Our Son, The Man” when Greg becomes a hippie, turns the den into a shrine to the inventor of the black light, and proceeds to greet his parents with a, “Hey, Mike, Hey, Carol”.
Mike Brady’s stern admonition rings in my ears, “Now, Greg…”. (Yes, I do watch too much television. Yes, I do have a weird knack for retaining useless information, why do you ask?)
What do I do to not incur the scorn of the Mike Bradys of the world?
I know it’s considered improper for a child to call a parent by their first name, due to some archaic rules set down that were found centuries ago in a troglodyte cave.
“Do not call your father Oog, little Ug, it’s daddy.”
It’s supposed to be out of respect. Because Miss Manners tells us this: it is not acceptable for a 16-year-old to say, “John is such a big jerk.” The appropriate phrasing would be, “My dad is such a f**king a**hole.”
No sense in using my real first name when ramming the verbal knife right between the shoulder blades. But how did this become so taboo? I picture us being at Chuck E. Cheese, my son calling out, “Heeeyyy, Scott”, and the entire place comes to a screeching halt with even the banjo playing animatronic creatures stopping and staring as if he had uttered the name E.F. Hutton. Then the two hundred parents let out a gasp of shock, and they wisk him away to a foster home.
Here’s the problem. I don’t care.
I have to discipline the poor kid day in and day out on a myriad of constitutional issues, and I just don’t have the heart to scold him for just using my name. In fact, it makes things a little easier. Imagine being in a room packed with kids, all screaming, “Daddy! Daddy!”, like little baby birds looking for a worm. Then I hear a little voice, “Scott! Over here!”, and zoom, I’m an eagle swooping down and grabbing my little salmon out of the stream of preschoolers. But the way others react, you would think that he just shouted at the top of his lungs that Jesus was a heroin addict.
Personally, I blame it all on doctors. As we all know, doctors have this thing about liking to be called “Dr.”. And I fully agree in a professional setting. Helps you weed out the doctors from the lab technicians. But I don’t understand carrying it out into your personal life. We owned a restaurant for several years, and time and time again we would get a phone call where instead of asking for a reservation for Smith, they would insist that it was for Doctor Smith. And no, not Dr. Smith from Lost in Space, him I would let slide. Why they thought it necessary that we inform our staff that a doctor was coming for dinner I don’t know.
“Oh my god, the guest on table 12 is choking! No time to call 911, man, check the reservation book!”
What I really don’t understand was when I worked retail — shudder — I noticed some credit cards that had the doctor title on them. Now, really, what’s the purpose of that?!? The pimply faced teenager at Target is really impressed. And for all of you out there that insist on being called Dr. just because you have a Ph.D. please, stop. No, I mean it, STOP. We’re all glad that your family is rich enough to support you while you sat around for 4 years and determined the meaning of Finnigan’s Wake. But I refuse to call you doctor for it. You’ll definitely get the obligatory Professor out of me if we’re in an academic setting, but if you correct me when I’m introduced to you at a party and insist I call you doctor, you will be summarily ridiculed.
So, what to do about my son, the man? Perhaps one solution is for me to go back to school, write a dissertation on the underlying leftist anti-establishment sentiments of “Red Fish, Blue Fish” and insist that my son and everyone else around me begin using my new title Dr. of B.S., B.M., Esq., Inc. But I think I’ll follow the lead of Mr. Atticus Finch and how he handled his little Scout — I’m going to do absolutely nothing.