What's In a Name?

Our rector walked into my office the other day and called me Justin, as he began to compliment me on the youth kickoff this past Sunday. Now, last time I checked, I'm Isaac, and I know who Justin was-- the youth minister before me. This has happened now and then, mostly with parents, and it scares me every time. Mostly because people who worked with both of us assure me we're completely different.

It made me think about names and how important they are to the people who own them. And how it's a no-brainer to remember people's names. But that made me think of a silly rule I had a while ago. The rule went something like this:

If you see someone and do not know his/her name, there is a limited amount of time/number of encouters when you can ask it before it's rude, because you should know already.

This is an incredibly silly rule. I dreamed it up because I ran into a couple of kids in my previous parish who I'd known from camp, but since I only saw them once a year, didn't always remember their names. Once I moved to Escanaba and found that they lived there too (and thus started to run into them all the time) I was at a serious disadvantage because I didn't know their names, but I'd known the two of them for a long time and didn't feel like I could ask.

Knowing students' names is the very beginning of a connection, and there is never a time when I can't ask, if I've forgotten or momentarily spaced out. There are, of course, many polite ways to ask students their names. "Who are you?" just doesn't quite have that friendly feeling.

When I run into a student whose name I can't recall, I ask "Would you remind me of your name?" That way he or she knows I know it already, or at least have it written down somewhere.

There are fewer solutions for calling students by the wrong names, which I've also done many times. Often, I pick a name for a student I've met (especially friends of my students) and stick it on him or her without checking to see if that's the right one. If a student brings a different friend, that new friend often gets stuck with the old name. I'm willing to live with that one, and laugh at myself when I make the mistake, because if my students are bringing their friends, that outweighs my big, inaccurate mouth.

What do you do when you've forgotten a student's name or call one by the wrong name? Any humorous bloopers out there along these lines?


R10Mom@hotmailcom said...

You could try, "I remember you from....but I'm blocking on your name."

Anonymous said...

Wait until you get older, it only gets worse.

I agree with 410mom. Also, the "Do you two know each other" if there is someone handy sometimes works.

Jenna said...

I have a girl in my group whose name is Lisa, and I keep calling her Jill....no clue where that one came from! I often have a hard time with siblings, and switch them! argh! or in my group i have a Taylor, a Tyler, and 3 Tanners...now that is confusing!

Since i am fairly new, I just keep asking, and apologize for forgetting!


Isaac, The Rookie said...

Twins get me every time. On a day camp I volunteered for years ago, we had a set of twins that no one could tell apart except for their clothes. So one day they came in wearing matching outfits and we were sunk until one of the counselors noticed they had on different shoes. Well, that kept us clear until lunchtime when they went to the bathroom and switched shoes!