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Their Mother?! Really?!

, , , , | Working | December 16, 2021

The conference I was speaking at had a daycare center, so even though it was during the school summer vacation and my husband was also working, we didn’t have to arrange a babysitter. On arrival, I filled out the registration forms at the reception desk, handed the children off to the childcare worker, and went to do my presentation.

When I came to pick them up two hours later, my daughter looked sad. Then, I spotted their name tags.

We are Dutch and our children have North European names, spelled slightly different from the more usual form, but pronounced pretty much the same, like Riita and Tuomas.

On the children’s name tags were the common versions, Rita and Thomas. My son was too young to realize it, but my daughter was upset — like a seven-year-old can be — because her name was spelled wrong. She insisted, “I am not a Rita; I am Riita.”

I asked the receptionist what happened. She answered she didn’t know; the childcare workers made the nametags.

Just when we were about to leave, the worker who had taken care of the children walked up to the reception desk to grab something. The receptionist asked her why she had spelled the names differently from the names on the forms, and she answered, “I thought their mother spelled their names wrong.”

I still wonder why a childcare worker would think a speaker at a conference would misspell both her children’s names in clear block letters on a registration form. Or maybe she thought the parents had misspelled both the children’s names at birth but stuck with it and the worker tried to remedy that? And then also ignored my daughter’s protests for two hours.

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