Identity crisis

So we had this Big Important Meeting at school this week. The nice thing about completely obsessing and worrying over such an event is that it rarely turns out to be as bad as you’ve imagined. Really, the worst thing about these meetings (so far) is that no matter how much notice we give about the kids’ dad wanting to be teleconferenced in, the school seems to be chock-full of conference rooms without phones. And as much as I like Monkey’s classroom, spending a Big Important Meeting sitting in a child-sized chair isn’t really my idea of a good time.


Anyway, part of what we did was go over Monkey’s test results and review the Giant Report of Monkey-Related Information. [Side note: I like how such reports generally start out with something like “Monkey Lastname is a fourth grader at Local School. He is outgoing and eager to please.” Like perhaps we’re planning to list him on Petfinder and want people to know that he’s a very good puppy.] The test results include all sorts of background and family information, too.

So Otto and I are flipping through the report, scanning it, as we’re waiting for things to start, and we simultaneously reach the part that says, “Monkey lives with his mother, Mir Kamin, his stepfather, Otto Lastname, and his older sister, Chickadee.”

Otto and I looked at each other in horror.

See, the report actually SAID “Otto.” Now, I’m sure this is a HUGE SHOCK to regular readers, but, um, I have a confession. Otto’s name isn’t actually Otto. I KNOW! SHOCKING! But Otto is a pseudonym.

And there, in black and white, on the report, he was listed as “Otto.”

Which means that the person who wrote the report has read my blog. Which means… ummm, I’m not sure what that really means. But it’s weird.

We looked at each other. We looked at her. I cleared my throat. “Um, where did you get Otto?” I said. “Because his name isn’t Otto, his name is NotOtto*, remember?”

Otto and I waited and turned two sets of VERY CURIOUS eyeballs onto the school psychologist, who I should mention (and not even because she’s apparently reading my blog) is quite lovely.

Then, to break the tension, Otto stuck out his hand to shake. “Hi there!” he said. “Nice to meet you! I’m NotOtto Lastname.” We all laughed.

“Oh, that’s… that’s right,” she stammered. “I, uh… I have no idea where I got that! How strange! Of course his name is NotOtto. Let me change that.”

Otto and I exchanged another glance. “That’s just so… ODD,” I finally said. “Because the name Otto… well… that’s kind of an inside joke. But I’m SURE I never used it in talking with you. It’s just such an ODD COINCIDENCE.” I waited. For her to come clean. And she continued wavering between embarrassment and confusion.

Finally the meeting began and I forgot about it. For about ten minutes.

Look; it’s not that my blog is a SECRET. But when you live in Podunk Town, USA (I do) and you don’t get out much (I don’t), and you favor separation of both Church and State and Serious School Matters and That Thing I Do Online (world without end, amen), it was a little jarring to think that that folks at the school have been reading my blog. And then the whole “Oh I have no idea where I got that, hahaha how weird!” response was just… unsettling.

Well, the next day I had to talk to this woman on the phone about something, and during a lull in the conversation she said, “Oh! I remember what I wanted to tell you! I figured out where I got Otto!”

“Oh really?” I said, trying to sound only slightly interested.

“Yes!” she said. “Do you have… a website… or something? One time when I was working with Monkey he told me a funny story about Licorice eating… was it a pear? I think so. And Monkey told me you put a video on your site and I should go look. And then he gave me the URL. And did it say something about Otto, there? I can’t remember.”

Uh huh. Let’s see… ratted out by my own kid, someone who first couldn’t remember WHERE Otto came from and then thought that maybe it had something to do with a silly video of my dog, she wasn’t sure, hmmm. Yeah. That all added up.

Added up to AWKWARD, that is.

If you think I didn’t immediately go back through to make sure I hadn’t said anything bad about the school (I haven’t! love the school! they’re all so pretty there!), you obviously haven’t been here for very long. Meanwhile, Otto is wondering if maybe he should change his name. To Otto. Or possibly NotOtto.

And apparently it’s time to have The Talk. Oh, not THAT talk (remember, we’ve already had that one). The one where I explain that we don’t just walk around giving out Mama’s URL. A lady’s gotta have some secrets, after all.

*Okay, you got me. His name isn’t NotOtto, either.


  1. Otto

    My name’s not Otto?

    WHY HAVE YOU BEEN LYING TO ME?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

    -someone who thought he was otto

  2. Kelly

    Would that make him a FauxOtto?

  3. Arina

    or a Fauxto, if you will…

  4. Megan

    S’okay Otto. You’ll always be Otto here.

    Also? I had someone who only knows someone who knows about my blog call my kid Child 1. Was very… weird. I mean, it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue does it?

  5. Liza

    1) School counselor person should fess up to reading your blog. :) Perhaps it will help everyone help Monkey most effectively.

    2) I totally thought your link to THAT TALK was going to be the post from when you were packing to move and found yourself on the floor in the bathroom explaining the birds & the bees. Which was, I think, the first post of yours I ever read, and which is equally great to the secret accurate information about how babies are made.

  6. ben

    Thanks to a couple of wayward pilots that made the news, I have had my brain stuck on Otto from Airplane! for the last week or so.

    Talk about awkward…

  7. natasha the exile on Mom Street

    Next time that you meet with these people, have Chickie print up a label for him that says “NotOtto” that he can wear across his forehead. While eating a pear.

  8. RuthWells


  9. Randi

    OH NO!! They found you! Gak! That’s one good thing about living where I live – most of the people have no idea what blogs are, much less how to find them, and my kids don’t even know about mine, which means that they can’t give out the URL!

  10. Javamom

    I am so confused. If Otto isn’t Otto then Monkey and Chickadee aren’t the children’s real names either……
    Ok. Perhaps I should consider myself lucky that I get like 8 visitors to my blog, none of whom appear to reside in this metropolitan city, and likely not even in this country…

  11. Heidi

    To be fair, it could be true that she read it just the one time she watched the video; you wrote, “As I write this, Otto is in bed with the not-flu”, and the name may have stuck in her head. I mean really, how many Ottos are out there? One non-scientific way to tell is if her nose grew during the converstaion.

  12. Billie

    You really need to link to the “The miracle of life, ruined by boys” post more often. I know I read it the first time but man, it is FUNNY!!!

    I have a hard time even writing to my blog. I LOVE to read other people’s blogs (your blog was the very first one I ever read btw. Seriously!!). My husband decided to create a blog for me. I don’t know if it is because I know that he reads it or what, but I just can’t bring myself to post everyday. I think it’s cuz I know he is the only one that reads it so I feel like I’m telling him the things he already knows…lol.

  13. My Kids Mom

    An older aunt (of the Southern tradition, meaning not really related) sent a card to my kids (who have never met her) addressed to Pook and Bug. Freaked them out a bit.

  14. Heidi D

    Oh my! That would be awkward for me… Especially since I DON’T like my son’s school psychologist, and most likely would be venting on my blog about her– if I had one. But then again, I’ve made it clear she’s not my favorite person.

  15. Mandee

    Oh, Lord. My mom’s a school psychologist (no longer in Georgia and never in your Podunk Town, USA (although, you just think your town is Podunk Town. The stories she could tell)) and I think she would just drop dead if something like that ever happened. Just fall right over in her chair in the middle of the meeting.

    Glad that it went better than anticipated.

  16. Holly

    You know what would be REALLY awkward; if she really does read this blog and now you’ve gone and written a WHOLE blog post about her and how awkward this whole situation is. Because obviously if she does read your blog, you’ve now got a “situation” Also, can I just say that Fauxto had me laughing harder than I have in a while?

  17. Stacia

    I don’t remember a video about Licorice eating a pear. Did I miss it? Good thing you don’t call Otto dumbass or something else equally rude on your blog!

  18. Lylah

    You should have reintroduced him as “Auto.”

  19. Mom

    NOT Otto? NOT Chickie? And Monkey is NOT Monkey? Then who are they? Are you really Mir? A Grandmother (or even an Auntie Mame-type) show KNOW these things. Please forward the accurate info at your earliest convenience. Hmph!

    Thank you,

  20. Cindy

    While I fully realize this must have been very strange and awkward for you and the husband formerly known as Otto, I must confess I found the whole thing HILARIOUS. Laughter is good for the soul!

  21. kvv

    “we don’t just walk around giving out Mama’s URL”

    Ha ha, love it! Welcome to the modern world.

  22. Beth R

    PLEASE tell me that the report at least had Chickadee’s real name correct? Or was she wrong too?

    I agree with most everybody — she needs to man up and admit that she’s read your blog.

  23. Beth R

    Whoops – hit enter too soon:

    And then go on with life!

  24. karen

    Oh man….I always thought Otto was an unusual.. but pretty and shiney!! name…. but.. but.. I also thought it was REAL. Now I just don’t know, Mir… everything’s changed. *sigh* (you’re more original than me… mine is just “M”)

    By the way… that school psychologist?… is TOTALLY reading your blog. She didn’t fess up because I’ll assume it would seem unprofessional, and sort of like snooping on one of her families. Awkward to say the least! You handled it well.

  25. Tracy

    Maybe that’s for the best really, a litmus test to see who’s read your blog! It might even eliminate that awkward meeting after she did something weird (I mean even weirder) and you just had to write about it.

    That video was pretty cute though. I can wee why he wanted to share!

  26. kristen

    You cannot make this stuff up! Too funny!

  27. Mara

    Haha, I’ve been reading your blog for years and never realized that Otto was a pseudonym. Stupid of me I guess. At least I figured out Chickadee and Monkey… after awhile.

  28. feefifoto

    So he’s Notto.

  29. Headless Mom

    I have nothing witty to add. I wish I did. This was my best laugh all day! Oh, and I’m waiting impatiently for what your kids are for Halloween…they always have the best costumes!

  30. Heather

    Oh wow that would be awkward indeed! But you know, funny blog fodder, so yay ;)

  31. elizabeth

    “Monkey lives with his mother, Mir Kamin, his stepfather, Otto Lastname, and his older sister, Chickadee.”

    and Otto has an older sister Chickadee?

  32. Sharri

    As a long time reader (and very seldom commenter), am I the only one who remembers when you first started dating Otto again, you said there was a story behind the name and that you would share it with us someday? I come back here every day for years waiting for a story on Otto’s name and all I get are entertaining, insightful, heartfelt, hysterical stories about you and your family! Oh, the injustice!

  33. tuney

    And it’s feefifoto for the win!! Notto. Priceless.

  34. Lady M

    Did the report at least have Chickadee’s real name?

    Notto and Fauxto are both excellent names.

  35. Anna Marie

    Oh Mir, that is SO funny. I mean, to have Otto called OTTO fergawdsakes – if it weren’t for the serious matter at hand – how funny!

  36. Debra

    OMG! Are you also NotMir?

  37. Ani

    “Do you have a…website…or something?”


    She spent hours reading your archives. Who’s she kidding?

    But now she knows that you are an awesome mom and a terrific writer. So, hey, it works out in the end.

  38. mamaspeak

    I vote for Fauxto!

    I did LOL when I read this, and she’s a putz for not owning up to it right away. On the up side, she knows how awesome Monkey really is, and he’s a round peg in a square hole world. It’s really up to them to meet his needs, not the other way around.

  39. Chuck

    I post my blog using my real name (although there’s several hundred people with my name in the US so it’s not too individual) but I was keeping the city I lived in confidential for ages. Then I realized the city I live in was public on my Amazon page all that time so anyone searching for my name could have figured out where I lived easily without even looking at my blog. However, the situation encouraging me to keep my city name confidential has resolved itself for the most part and so now I keep my city barely camouflaged (although it’s still not directly mentioned on my blog.)

  40. Ellen

    My grandpa’s name actually was Otto. He hated that name, and went by O.C. (his middle name was Carl) or Web, short for his last name. I actually remember my dad only calling him Web. My cousin was going to name his baby Otto in honor of grandpa, and it horrified everyone – so thankfully, the baby was a girl.

  41. Janet

    Well,, it was only a matter of time. :) But…. it’s always fun to have one’s stalking behavior outed in a public setting!!

  42. raina

    oh my! Like those meetings arent awkward enough!

  43. Fran

    We used to have a Cat we named Elmo…he disappeared so we got another one who looked like him…he became known as Not Elmo mostly referred to in writing as ~Elmo but at the Vets as KnotElmo..along with his cat brother Knoel. This has nothing to do with Monkey or the subject at hand but I thought it funny you should refer to Otto as NotOtto…have you been reading my blog???

  44. Brenda

    I personally would have so much more respect for her if she posted a comment right here right now! As my husband would say, “Just get it out!”

  45. elswhere

    OK I must admit that if I were her, I’d have been hitting “refresh” on your blog ever since that meeting, in mingled anticipation and horror about whether you were going to write about it. So…hi, school psychologist!

  46. Paula

    Poor thing! She was clearly caught off guard when you noticed her “slip” and is most likely kicking her self now for not just fessing up in the first place! Hopefully she will post here so that we can all officially welcome her to the wonderful world that is Otto, Mir, Chickadee, Monkey and the Oh So Lovely Licorice!

  47. Kerry

    I thought his name was Otto, until that major magazine had that article giving him away! Tee hee.

    That is really strange and super uncomfortable. Having people talk about me in town is one of the main reasons that I stopped blogging. It got a little old hearing my own information three times removed from someone I didn’t know very well.

    Nice try though, mentioning that you just saw that one video. Was “Otto” even mentioned in the video? Personally, if I stumbled upon an acquaintance’s online life I would read from start to finish. Wouldn’t you? I don’t think I would forget such a thing either. Many years of web presence can make an impression.

  48. The Other Leanne

    See? I’ll bet in all your worrying you never even glimpsed this scenario! Shame on a psychologist (HI! We see you!) who can’t own up to the obvious in a truthful, straightforward manner. Although she must have been absolutely mortified.
    Well, now she knows that you are a loving, caring mother who struggles to provide the best upbringing she can. And now you know that she read every entry and got so caught up in WouldaShoulda that she started thinking in that language. Maybe she even sneaked in a comment or two…

  49. Marie

    Was the meeting with just the school psychologist, or were there other people there, too?

    If there were others, her not admitting to reading your blog until later means that she didn’t out the blog to everyone else in the room. I’d cut her some slack on that one. It could’ve been worse.

  50. Leila

    She could have used Otto on purpose to take the focus off of Monkey, and add some humor to the conference……


    I vote for NOTTO. Be prepared to hear that when we visit. By the way, Dad says that he really is still Dad.

  51. Heather C

    That is bizarre. What’s she doing homework on you? You cannot convince me that she didn’t know EXACTLY where “Otto” came from… but what the heck is wrong with saying “Oh! I read it on your blog!”

  52. Ingrid

    Nice. I’m guessing the school-psychologist lost some sleep over that screw-up.

  53. Lori N

    I’m agreeing with Marie — points to the school psychologist for not bringing up your URL at the meeting! Maybe I’m naive, but I like to think psychologists try to keep things confidential & her slip was completely innocent. I’m sure she was mortified she messed up the paperwork & was trying to figure out how not to complicate the matter further — especially with other people in the room.

  54. Nicki

    Yeah. My daughter’s teachers are reading the blog. It saves me time actually. And instead of dealing with another face, it has humanized her. Keenan hasn’t been passing out Mama’s URL so I still keep having THOSE conversations with his teachers.

    And…I wish I were more clever, like you. Or at least shiney and pretty. I live all out there. Luckily, I live all out there in a big city where I’m still pretty anonymous. No pseudonyms here.

  55. MomCat

    Who does she think she’s fooling? Not any of us, obviously.

  56. Melisa


  57. Dixiechick

    Haha! That is hilarious in an awkward having-to-fess-up-that-we’re-all-snoopers kind of way. I only have about six people reading my blog, but it still startles me when my dad calls me and says something like, “So, what about that “.

  58. Dixiechick

    Humph..that comment and I did not get was supposed to read:
    “So what about that “insert topic you really did not want to discuss with your dad here””.
    The joys of blogging!

  59. Katie in MA

    La la la la. I can’t hear (read?) you!

    I have decided that the magazine had it all wrong. And…well…everyone else, too. Clearly, Otto’s real name IS Otto. Maybe he could be trained to answer to Otto? :)

  60. Nancy R

    I’m amused but the ‘busted’ part of the meeting…but bothered that she didn’t come clean in the post-meeting phone call. A simple explanation of ‘Monkey gave me the URL for the link to the video and I did some reading as well, I guess Otto just stuck in my memory.’ would have to suffice.

    NOW, in the words of Austin Powers, “It got weird, didn’t it?”

  61. Karate Mom

    Oh, Mir, can we please, please, PRETTY PLEASE WITH SPRINKLES ON TOP hear the story of why NotOtto is Otto? Please?

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