Before I ever became a parent and later a mentor, I had one name.
Actually, that’s not true. I was the guy who had many names. Most of them were nicknames I attempted to give myself because I thought they were cool.
“Hey Everybody. My new nickname is Legend!” Yep, I was (and still am) that guy.
Okay, so that’s not true either. Because, aside from all the nicknames I gave myself, I also had all the ways that people botched my name: Warren; Wagner; Wanner; Willard; I think you get the idea.
And then I have those completely ruthless friends that would no longer call me by my proper name but instead called me “Wagner” or even shortened it to “Wags”.
Okay, so I had my name and then the multiple butchered variations of my given birth name. And I also had the nicknames I gave myself.
Then some time after I became a parent, I became pretty comfortable with being known as “Delton’s Dad”. I began to respond to things like, “Excuse me, Mr. Delton’s Dad, I need some help in here.”
Of course I would respond to that. It was my name.
Once I started going into local schools and mentoring, I wasn’t “Delton’s Dad”. At that time, he wasn’t even school age. But obviously, I wasn’t a teacher or a coach, so what was I doing there?
That’s when kids began to know me as “Robert Earl’s Mentor” and refer to me as “Mr. Warner”, because I’m just not comfortable with being called Mr. Phelps and I don’t know if I ever will be.
In one of the books I had to read for a class, they talked about all the different roles you fill in life. I’d mention the book by name if I could remember which one it was and I am really not sure if I am combining ideas from multiple books. Anyway, if the idea is new to you, I thought it up all by myself.
Some of the names I’ve earned in life are far better than others. Dad is obviously my favorite. But all the friends I’ve made along the way who remember me as “Mentor” hold a pretty special place in my heart.
Wherever you are, there is a kid out there looking to learn your name and wanting to tell you theirs and be your friend. They’re looking for someone to become a part of their life. It’s actually pretty easy, all you have to do is walk up to them and say, “Hi. My Name is _____________”