My son’s senior thesis exhibition a few weeks ago marked a milestone for me that I only just noticed.
I had the pleasure of meeting one of his three thesis advisers, Ryan, who met with my son weekly to delve into the dark abyss from where creativity springs forth.
When my son introduced his adviser to me, the first words out of my mouth were, “Hi, I’m Luciano’s mom.” As expected, I received instant recognition and a warm, welcoming smile with the handshake. For the next 30 minutes, Ryan and I proceeded to swap stories about my son that made him blush and hurry off to check on other friends within minutes of our hellos.
A recent lunchtime conversation with a colleague about her child reminded me of the days when I volunteered at my son’s activities years ago. It was where I adopted my standard greeting.
I recognized my son’s friends from drop off/pick ups or watching practices. They were always startled when I called them by name so I learned early on to identify myself as their friend’s mother first. My actual name didn’t matter. It’s not like they would be comfortable addressing me by my first name and I don’t care for the formalities of a surname.
I found parents had the same difficulty as their children. So when the swim team (which at one point had 150 children) had its annual sportswear fundraiser, I ordered T-shirts for my partner and me. Rather than put our names on the back, I listed our family job titles instead: Luciano’s Dad and Luciano’s Mom, respectively.
Those T-shirts earned much mirth, some envy and lots of appreciation from other parents — from home and away teams both. My son (who was 9 or 10 at the time) was embarrassed though. Next time, he asked if I could I use the family last name rather than his first as part of the moniker, since all the kids go by their surnames at the meets. If I had it to do again, I’d pay for the extra letters for his full name so that both home and away parent volunteers would know us.
I imagine the last time I will introduce myself in this way is to meet his future life partner at a family gathering. I can only hope for a promotion after that.