Tuesday, January 9, 2018


And so it happened again on Saturday.

I have been going to Weight Watchers for almost a full year. I hit my goal weight in October and made lifetime in November. When you hit lifetime, you only have to weigh in once a month. Even so, I go to the meetings and weigh in pretty much every single week. The accountability and consistency work for me.

My WW leader is a Stanford graduate in her early 50's, mother of two college-aged sons, a mountain biker. She's high energy, really funny, and really honest about her own weight loss struggles; we all laugh every week as she talks about the"snack-cidents" in her own life. Her strengths as a leader are evidenced by the number of people that roll out of bed to make it to her meetings every Saturday morning at 7:30. She's really good.

But she doesn't know my name.

The doors at Weight Watchers open half an hour before the meetings start. People stand in line (really long at this time of year), and wait to weigh-in. While we are waiting, the leader works her way down the line, greeting people, answering questions and making name tags.

Saturday I stood in line in front of a really nice guy named Josh. He usually comes with a baby and I commented that she wasn't with him today. He said she was sick. We made small talk-- his wife is a baker and he is currently surrounded by five kinds of cupcakes. I found out he's a teacher, working with high-risk high schoolers. And he posts killer recipes on the WW Facebook page.

And then the leader got to us.

Josh was standing behind me, but she made his name tag first.

And then she looked at me. And I knew what she couldn't remember my name.

"It's Carol," I said.

Most weeks she responds, "I should be able to remember that, my mom's name is Carol." And we both laugh.

Today I said it for her, "Just like your mom."

And she kind of laughed and wrote out my name tag and moved on.

And it's really not that big a deal.

But it kind of is.

I have been going faithfully for a whole year. I'm not a super verbal participant, but I show up and weigh in and sit through the 30-minute meeting pretty much every week. And my leader knows lots and lots of people's names, but after fifty weeks, and even though I share a name with her mom, she still doesn't know mine.

And it bothers me just a little bit. I wonder why I'm not memorable to her.

And I'm an adult, with a reasonably well-established sense of self. There are lots of other people in my life who do know my name and love me and take care of me.

But my WW leader doesn't know my name.

And the whole experience says something to me. I'm a literacy coach and interventionist. I work with about 400 kids a week. I've always made it a practice to know kids' names. To talk to them and to acknowledge them as human beings.  But over the last couple of years it's gotten harder. I think my memory really isn't as good as it used to be.

But I need to keep working at it.

Because it matters.

Knowing kids' names really, really matters.


Anonymous said...

I love your post and it's descriptions of your conversations, the people and conversations. I think your leader is embarrassed that she can't remember your name and she knows she should. I have a terrible time with names especially if I've gotten it wrong a few times.. then it's like a mental block or something. This experience does give you more perspective and empathy for making sure to know each child's name!

Linda B said...

Yes, you're so right, Carol. She should know your name, and should be embarrassed that this happens time and again! We had a head of school once who didn't learn all the students' names and I wondered why. He had only about 200 names to learn compared to my own children's principal with 600 plus names, and "he" knew them. It is so important.Well said!

Deb Day said...

Yep. She should know your name. No matter what "business" we are in, knowing people's names is important. As a teacher, I tried to learn the quiet names first because I know that they need someone to recognize them. What I like now when I sub is the seating charts with student pictures on them. It helps me connect right away instead of stumbling through remembering

Ramona said...

Oh, Carol, she should know you! Not that many members make lifetime and it's worthy of her knowing you (that and your faithful attendance for a year). I struggle with names, but constantly try to do better at knowing people's names. What's frustrating to me is how I can look at a person I've known for a long time and draw a total blank when it comes to the name. Some of us are definitely challenged in this arena. Congrats on your successful weight loss journey!

Carol L. said...

This is a great post. Very honest. She definitely should know your name. I would have feeling's similar to yours in that you don't want it to matter, but it does matter. And should matter. This year I am working with a new group of students in a new building. I have only seen them 3 times - once a month since October, but I do not remember all their names. It actually makes me cringe that I cannot remember them. I agree that learning kids names are especially important. As your group leader, she is not as good as you think she is because she has not learned your name. I hope this changes for you very soon. Congrats on achieving your weight loss goals. From another Carol

Kathleen Neagle Sokolowski said...

I totally understand how this hurts- for someone not to know your name after all that time! I loved the way you paced your post and how you brought it back to your teaching. Your students are fortunate you understand the importance of saying their names!