|Day 13 of 31 at TWT!|
me: "Wow, you're early today!"
M: "Yes, ma'am, our teacher let us out early last period."
me: "Did you have a good weekend?"
M: "Yes ma'am, it was real nice."
me: "Me too. Did you do anything super fun?"
M: "Oh yes ma'am! We went to the outlet mall and had a cookout!"
and so on...
On one hand, I think it's awesome that her family has obviously taught her to be very respectful to any adult. In addition to the "ma'am"-ing, her whole tone of voice and body posture change when she talks to me (vs. how she addresses other kids). Not in a bad, uptight way, but just a show of respect. It's like the American version of using "Usted"! There are many kids who could certainly improve upon the way they treat others (no matter their age!), and this girl is a fantastic role model of respect.
On the other hand, it makes me feel OLD! This "ma'am" sounds like somebody way older than me... You see, I've always looked really young for my age. So young that people are constantly misjudging my age: (yes, these are all REAL examples!)
- Wondering if I'm a new student...when I went for my first day of a 5-week in-service during my M.Ed. program. (It was a K-8 school!)
- Asking if I'm old enough to use the exercise machines at the rec center... when I was home from college one summer. (The age limit was 13 and up!)
- Guessing I was a student teacher... when I arrived at School #2 during my first year in this position. (It was my 3rd year of teaching!)
This has played into my identity for so many years that I automatically think of myself as the young one in most groups. I'm pretty sure I still look really young, since most strangers middle-aged or older (cashiers, waitresses, the custodians at all my schools, etc.) still address me as "Honey", "Hon", "Sweetie", etc.
However, it's as if young customer service people suddenly know that I'm a "grown-up" now! Lately, high school / college-age kids in those types of jobs have started calling me "Ma'am" instead of "Miss". The first time it happened I wanted to run to a mirror! Do I look older all of a sudden? Nope, don't think so... Maybe it's the clothes? Is this only happening when I run errands in my teaching clothes? Perhaps I should start a scientific experiment tallying when and where...
It's not that it bothers me, but it just feels really funny! Of course, I suppose it could be a good thing that the outside world is starting to finally recognize me as a "real adult" -- considering I've been one for 5 years now!