Several years ago when I was the secretary at an elementary school, I had an after-school reading club for kids. On a whim, I asked the kids if they knew me. I thought that would be easy to answer since being secretary is a visible position and I’d also written several books by that time.
“You’re the counselor and Ethan’s grandma,” hollered one kid.
I nodded, “That’s half right. I’m Ethan’s grandma.”
Another hand popped up. “You’re the concierge.”
The what! Perhaps I needed to get out of the office more.
Another hand flew up. Whew! It was a grandchild.
“You are the secretary,” said my granddaughter proudly.
Even though I was growing wiser, I wasn’t wise enough to end the topic.
“Does anyone know my name?”
Again, I chose a grandchild. (Thank goodness, I had several who went to that school.) I could see he was flustered, since the grandkids call me Grandma Debbie and staff members aren’t usually called by first names. “You are Grandma Smith,” he answered, choosing to use my last name instead of first.
Too late, it dawns on me that I’ve pushed the limits. I tell the class they are not required to call me Grandma Smith. They can call me Ms. Debbie.
Beware: Questions to boost self-esteem can sometimes backfire!