There is no joy greater that hearing your child say “mama” or “dada” for the first time, except maybe the happiness that comes from silence when they are sleeping after hearing those words 1,000,000 times.
I love my children more than anything in life…. but sometimes they get on my nerves.
It’s not so much that they want to be in my space, eat my food, prevent my sleep, or destroy my house, but that they cannot seem to leave each other alone for one, blessed second.
In those instances where the temptation to pester one another is too great, I always find myself in the form of a fire-breathing dragon fully prepared to skewer and roast their little, antagonizing selves. (Then I remember how much time and money I have invested in them, and I transform back into a loving, caring mother.)
After a particularly arduous 25-minute car ride to town last summer, I declared that no one was to call me “Mom” for the duration of our trip. (We were going to two stores and pick up lunch, but I wasn’t too sure I could avoid eating my young at that point.) I announced that I was no longer to be called “Mom,” but rather my children were to address me as “Lady Madame Josephine” before speaking to me at any time. This command was met with silence and then laughter from my children.
As soon as the first child chose to say the dreaded M-word, I pulled off into a parking lot, stopped the car, and with the blazing heat of a true mama dragon, I seared them with my words, “My name is Lady Madame Josephine. If you want to have lunch today you will address me as such.” Silence again.
No one spoke until we arrived serenely at our first stop. My daughter tentatively said, “May I ask a question?”
My reply, “You may.”
My daughter’s inquiry, “Why do you want us to call you ‘Lady Madame J… ‘; what was it again?”
I answered, “Lady Madame Josephine.”
My daughter again, “Why do you want us to call you ‘Lady Madame Josephine’?”
“Because that is my name for the rest of the day,” I told her and got out of the car.
Demanding that my children address me as “Lady Madame Josephine” has become a common practice for a number of reasons. First, the name requires my children to think about what they are going to say before they start in on the whole “Mom”, whining, tattle-telling scenario.
Second, it lightens the mood when they are fighting, because they think it’s hilarious.
Third, it signifies that I am done with the bickering, and if they can’t address me in the correct manner, there is NO WAY on God’s green earth that I am going to pay any attention to their complaints.
If you find that you are exhausted from being called “Mom”, “Dad,” or in whatever manner you are normally addressed, I encourage you to consider adopting an alias that inspires thoughtful consideration before testing your patience while signifying that your limits have been met. I realize that this may seem like an unconventional method for encouraging children to think before speaking, but, dang, it has worked pretty well. (It doesn’t work all the time, but it does work.) So until we meet again, dear reader, please think of Lady Madame Josephine when your wits are at their end and consider adopting a name worthy of reflection and sanity for yourself.
By: Melanie A. Peters
P.S. Please comment with your new name so that we may band together in a formal parenting coalition of thought-provoking names.