Mr. Craig

One of the most endearing, and enduring, traditions of the deep South is having
children say, “Sir” or “Ma’am” and refer to adults as Miss or Mister with their first
name. And in really small towns like ours, this practice continues even through
A few years ago, when I took my first civilian job flying the CEO of a Fortune
1000 company, I asked how to address the big boss and his wife. “Oh, that’s
Mister Joe and Miss Kathy.”
“Really? Shouldn’t I use his last name?” I pressed, uncomfortable being on a
first-name basis with the boss.
“Oh, no, he wants to be called Mister Joe.” Turns out that the way you say the simple word, “Mister” can carry as much deference as Colonel or General did in my prior career. Interestingly enough, instead of creating distance between the generations, these quaint formalities connect people by linking respect with a friendly familiarity. Much like knowing how to stand up straight and make eye contact, children who’ve been taught how to address adults have far more confidence than those left awkwardly fending for themselves. And this respect becomes a huge advantage to a young man or woman opening doors to all kinds of interesting conversations and opportunities. 
It’s not easy to get there. Instilling respect is an endless chore for Mom and
Dad. The countless times I hear my friends correct their children with, “That’s
Mister Craig” or “No, Sir” reminds me that these little sprouts need constant
sunshine and watering to reach full potential. And it’s never too early to start.

When my friends’ youngest was 18 months old, she pointed to me and
declared, “Me cat.”
“Where’s your kitty?” I asked, thinking she had a new stuffed animal.
“No,” she said, shaking her head, “Me cat! Me cat!”
“I’m not sure what she’s saying,” her Dad shrugged as we both looked around
trying to figure it out.
Momma, the toddler whisperer, leaned in from the kitchen, “She’s saying
Mister Craig”.
“Ohhh, of course! Thanks!”

I looked into her adorable little face as she nodded and beamed. She was
delighted that we finally understood each other, but I was pleased even more.