During the day, Lion and I send each other text messages. Some are silly love notes. Some are housekeeping. Can you get the dry cleaning? Did you deposit that check? Any ideas for dinner? When I do remember to deposit that check, Lion usually says, “Thank you, ma’am.” Last week I asked him if he could make dinner. He said, “Yes, ma’am.” I know he’s looking for “good boy” or “thank you, my pet” or words to that effect, but it seems unnatural to me to say them. I do, of course, say thank you and please. But there’s something about speaking down to him that grates against my nerves. I say “good girl” to the
dog. Why would I say that to another human being?

The other day, at work, one of my coworkers and her immediate supervisor were going over stuff that needed to be done. The supervisor said, “Can you do X?” and the employee said, “Yes, boss.” This went on for about five minutes. Whatever the supervisor asked for, the employee said, “Yes, boss.” This is not normal chatter around the office. It didn’t seem like a sarcastic “yes, boss” but I couldn’t tell for sure. Usually a “yes, ma’am” is done tongue in cheek with our crew. We do recognize the supervisors are above us in the company structure but for the most part, from our point of view, the supervisors are the ones who get paid to make the decisions so we defer to them. Even when I was a supervisor no one ever said, “yes, ma’am” to me.

So how to deal with Lion and his need to call me ma’am? Up to now I have just responded to him normally. I’ve been trying to condition myself not to cringe or sigh when he does it. I’m hoping eventually it will not sound as ridiculous to me as it does now. I’m also hoping that I will not sound as ridiculous as I do now when I call him a good boy. Then again, it seemed ridiculous to spank him so I guess anything is possible.