Um, You’re Welcome?

Photo by DodgertonSkillhause at Morguefile.comA while back, I ran into a fellow parent at the grocery store.  Her youngest and my oldest are in the same grade and had been in the same schools since kindergarten.  We hadn’t seen each other in a while, now that our kids are in high school.  I was pleased to see her again and we stopped to chat.  Our kids weren’t ever especially close, but our elementary school community was a close-knit one and we had gotten to know each other reasonably well.

She asked about Jared and I told her how well he’s adjusting and about his joining the robotics team and so on.  And then, I wanted to ask about her kid.

You see, I have this problem.  I have almost no memory, especially when it comes to names.  You could tell me your name and, by the time you finish saying your last name, I’ve forgotten your first name.  Even if I’ve know you, as in this case, for nearly a decade, I’m still going to have trouble coming up with your name.  It’s nothing personal, really; it’s just the way my brain works.  Or, rather, doesn’t work.  So there I am, opening my mouth to ask about her kid and simultaneously digging furiously in the deepest recesses of my brain to try and come up with her kid’s name.

Just in the nick of time, I found a name.  But, of course, I wasn’t certain.  I never am.  So I said, “So, how’s… uh… Mark, right?”

To which she replied, “yes, thank you.”

And with that confirmation, I boldly stumbled on, “How is Mark doing?  He and Jared have biology together, right?”

So we chatted for a while.  It was nice; I enjoy such interactions.  I like hearing about other folks’ kids and heaven knows I like talking about mine.  After a bit, we went our separate ways to finish our shopping.

But something about our conversation was bothering me.  Playing back the exchange in my mind, I realized what seemed off.  I had asked about her son’s name and she had replied, “yes, thank you.”  Why would she thank me for remembering her kid’s name?  Maybe, if she knew how bad my memory really was, she might thank me for remembering it, but I’m pretty sure she didn’t — I work hard not to let people know.  So why thank me?

I considered that perhaps it was a cultural thing — English is not her first language and she does have an accent — but I discarded that notion; her English is perfect.  Furthermore, I’d never noticed anyone else with the same background saying something similar.

This rattled around in the empty corners of my brain for a while until, suddenly, it hit me.  You see, her son had transitioned over the summer before entering high school.

I think that she was thanking me for using Mark’s name rather than his prior name.  I guess some folks might have difficulty switching names and pronouns, but that shouldn’t be the case.  It’s not that hard to understand.  He’s a “he”, plain and simple.  No thanks needed.


Blogging for LGBTQ Families Day 2017

This post is part of Blogging for LGBTQ Families Day 2017.


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3 Responses to “Um, You’re Welcome?”

  1. Heather says:

    What an awesome thing you did, may seem small but so powerful!

  2. M. says:

    As a person that is equally terrible with names (just met a neighbor and as soon as he finished introducing himself, his name was a total blank so I had to go inside and look it up), I identify with this a lot.

    Love the sentiment and that you didn’t even realize why you were being thanked. That is how it should be.

  3. Jenn P says:

    I am equally horrible with names and am fully impressed that you remembered and got the new name out in time. I likely would have stumbled when I remembered the old name and then become a flustered fool.

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