My friends always make their kids call me aunt. Anytime I go over to their house they say things like:
“Aunt CJ’s here!”
“Thank your Aunt CJ for the nice gift.”
“Give your Aunt CJ a hug good-bye.”
I know they feel like it’s a nice gesture, like I’m part of the family. I feel like I’m supposed to be honored or flattered, but I’m not. To be honest, it makes me incredibly uncomfortable and kind of pisses me off.
First of all, think of how confusing that is for their children. An “aunt” is a member of your family. An aunt should be in your life forever. Like a parent, you should be able to depend on an aunt or an uncle to help you find your brother in the event of a worldwide blackout. Your aunt is someone you can go to for birth control when you’re too afraid to talk to your parents. An aunt is someone who will pick you up from a party that’s gotten out of control, after your ride has bailed, and there’s some creepy dude stalking you, and you need to get out without your parents knowing you were ever there.
I am not related to these children by blood, nor marriage. If you want to get technical, I am a friend of the family. To be even more specific, I’m a friend of a friend of the family, who by proxy, ends up hanging out with them on a semi-regular basis. If our mutual friend, the one who introduced us, had a falling out with them, I seriously doubt they’d be calling me to come over.
I’m not mentioned in their will, not even a parting thought or word. If I were to act like a total jerk, unlike with a sibling, they could sever the relationship without being forced to deal with me at uncomfortable holiday dinners. They could cut things off with me and it wouldn’t even be a big deal. Their kids aren’t going to call me for a ride, or birth control or to talk about some guy/girl who has broken their heart. I’m not their aunt in any way. I’m just not.
Nobody has asked me if I want to be called aunt, or what I’d like to be referred to. To be honest, I think my friend’s kids should call me Miss Arabia. That’s my name to children that aren’t related to me as far as I’m concerned. I’m not even kidding. I think kids should call the adults in their lives who aren’t related to them by their proper titles, as a sign of respect, such as: Mr. or Miss or Mrs. Whatever-their-last-name-is. I don’t know where people get off letting their kids call people they aren’t extremely familiar with by their first names, or referring to their friends as if they are family members. What the hell is going on?
It also demeans the relationship I have with my actual nieces and nephews. They can call me aunt, or auntie, because I am their aunt. I’m pretty sure that no matter what I do, I’ll be a part of their lives until my unfortunate passing into the great netherworld. I’ve picked them up from parties they didn’t want their parents to know they were at, and dropped them off at home and driven away. We’ve all had nights like those as teenagers, and I think it’s nice to have a responsible adult who is willing to come get you at 2am and who isn't going to judge you or rat you out or make a big deal out of it.
I digress, but the point is that I just don’t think it’s cool when people encourage their kids to give titles to people that simply aren’t true. Friends come and go, but family (whether you like it or not) is forever.