Jacob had his friend Joe over to play after school yesterday. I greeted the boys when they got into the car:
Cathy: Hi guys! Did you have a good day at school?
Joe: Yes, ma'am.
Jacob: You don't have to call her ma'am.
Cathy: Wow, I'm so glad the rain stopped! It sure has turned into a nice, sunny day, hasn't it?
Joe: Yes ma'am.
Jacob: Joe! You don't need to call her ma'am!!
Okay, now I'm from Connecticut. We don't really "do" the ma'am/sir thing. I mean, kids are taught to address grownups with respect, but "ma'am" and "sir" are not any kind of magic words of respect where I come from. In fact - and this is no joke (and Gina, if you read this, please pipe in and confirm this for me) - if a child were to call a teacher "ma'am" in CT, the teacher might well think that the kid was being a smart ass. So I just don't insist that my kids call me "ma'am." It is not what I grew up with, and it wouldn't feel natural for me to demand to be greeted that way.
That said, I have a very strong "when in Rome" philosophy, and the reality is that we live in a region of the country in which "ma'am" and "sir" are VERY important -- and very much a barometer of what kind of kid this is and how the kid was raised. So I DO teach my kids to refer to other grownups (teachers, parents of friends, random grandpas in Publix who tell them corny jokes, etc.) as ma'am or sir. I hope they are learning that lesson. (**PARENTAL BRAGGING ALERT**) Teachers tell us that they are sweet and very well-mannered kids, so I think they are (learning the lesson).
So I had to laugh at how adamant Jacob was that I not be called ma'am. I'm not sure if it's because HE is just not used to calling me ma'am, or if he thinks I'm just not ma'am-worthy in general. If it's the latter, I better start cracking the whip around here.
The car ride continued.
Jacob: You have a little sister, right?
Jacob: Is she annoying?
Joe: Yeah. You have two little sisters?
Joe: I'm lucky, I only have one. If my mom has another baby, I would want it to be a boy.
Jacob: Me too! Every time my mom has a baby I'm like "please be a boy. please be a boy." And it's always a girl.
What can you say? There is just nothing better than eavesdropping on kids' conversations.