In the South, we say "yes ma'am" and "no ma'am" or in the words of Hank Williams, Jr., "We say grace, and we say ma'am. If you ain't into that, we don't give a damn." (A country boy can survive.)
I was buying my lunch at the school cafeteria today and the person checking me out is a generation above me and so when she asked a question, the words "yes, ma'am" popped out. Then it occurred to me that I hadn't said that in a while. And that no one really does say that here that I've ever noticed. And then I realized that I don't seem to be teaching B to say "yes sir" and "yes ma'am." I don't know if it's because N doesn't do that being from Washington state? Or is B, being 5, only just coming into the age of needing to do this? Maybe in 3rd grade, people do say "yes ma'am" to their teacher, but not in 1st? His teachers in pre-school all go by first name; and before that in Hawaii they use auntie and uncle for someone who cares for you. I spend a lot of time saying, "say thank you" and "say please", but I don't seem to be doing the ma'am teaching.
Do you say "ma'am?" Are you teaching your children (or did you teach) your children to do so? Now that I've realized I haven't been doing this, I might start. A little bit of carrying his heritage culture forward, you know?