Terms of Endearment

I first moved to Texas as a college freshman, straight from the Dairy State. There were all kinds of culture shocks for me, including the one where every woman on campus called me “Hon” or “Honey.”

No one ever called me that before. But here I was, trying to learn how to eat jalapenos and chicken fried-mistake and the lady behind the serving tray wants to know “do you want grits with that, Hon?” I heard it most was when the staff member and I were in the middle of something difficult, like dropping a class or cashing a check. It felt very patronizing.

And that is because it probably was.

When you get dropped into another culture, or subculture, it’s easier to pick up on those kinds of things. And that brings me to the word “kiddo.”

Now, I’m not going to blow this out of proportion. One-to-one, it’s a term of endearment. It’s not the r-word, which mercifully, and finally, the Texas Legislature has banished. All our MHMRs must be renamed.

And this isn’t something that requires a People First refresher.

But I’ve heard this sort of thing so often — “It was a tough day for the kiddoes,” or “I’m trying to find out whether it will help my kiddoes,” or “Who’s going to stay with the kiddoes?” — that I’m starting to wonder about the usage.

Unless you’re using it one-on-one as a term of endearment, then just don’t use it.

It’s sounding patronizing.


  1. Mariel on June 3, 2011 at 3:14 am

    I think I know the one person who uses it as a term of endearment, and you are in phone earshot of him too.

  2. Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe on June 5, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    Hey, Kiddo!

    My youngest sister also says it — for Paige.

  3. Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe on June 5, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    Growing up, we called my little sister Booper. She managed to live it down.

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