Monday, May 26, 2008

A Rose By Any Other Name...

When I was growing up, I always dreamed of being a mother. Along with the visions of sweet sighs, soft skin and lots of tiny baby socks, I imagined the name(s) my child(ren) would have.

After I married and we started planning children, I realized two things:

1. Hubby had more of an opinion on the name(s) of the child(ren) than I cared for
2. My married last name did not lend itself to most of the names I had ever imagined

Our last name is French. It's a beautiful name, of which I am very proud. However, the exotic, sophisticated first names I had chosen sounded rather brazen and cheap along side the sir name the child(ren) would have.

For example, I loved names such as Noel, Chloe, Bridgett, Sophia. But with a French last name (we'll use LaFrey for our example), Noel LaFrey, Chloe LaFrey, Bridgett LaFrey and Sophia LaFrey... Well, it merely lacked "Boom Boom" as a middle name to complete the Tennessee-accented, stripper, pole-dancing name that resulted.

Surely, you can see how horrified I was to think of any daughter of mine being named "Bridgett- Boom Boom- LaFrey" Talk about predisposing your child to a certain life????
I also mentioned that Hubby and I had differing opinions on names. After I got over my disappointment of not being able to use any of my favorite names from childhood, my husband managed to veto just about any other name I found appealing.

Caroline, Jillian, Leanna or Campbell, Sumner, Thompson? No, no, no and no, no, no. Fine.

We finally came up with a couple of names we could agree on, and actually settled on a boy name and girl name for each of the three children, as they came. And, I was amazed at how much each child "fit" his or her name, as they grew.

There came the day that my kids and I were eating our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (without the crust, of course) at the lunch table.

Child number one said, "Mom, how did you come up with our names?"

"Well, daddy and I decided together. Why?"

"I don't like my name," my youngest said, with her nose wrinkled up.

"Really? Why?"

"I want a different name," my middle concurred.

"Well," I began, not realizing how I was setting myself up for such misery later on, "I had actually picked out names for you that daddy wasn't as crazy about. And daddy had some names he liked that I didn't."

"Like what?" my eldest said, so attentive he put down his sandwich.

"Well, I really liked the name Keith for you. And I wanted your middle name to be Albert after my grandfather. Or, I liked Sumner Thompson, after some other relatives."

My eldest considered these for a moment, and let the name "Keith" roll off of his tongue.

"I like Keith. Why didn't you name me that?"

"Daddy didn't like it."

"Well, I do. Call me Keith."

"What about me?" the two younger girls begged.

"Well, I liked Emma Grace for you."

"OOOOhhh. I like that, mommy! Why didn't you name me that?" my middle one asked, sitting with bright eyes on the edge of her chair.

"Well, your uncle made mention of the fact that Emma Grace sounds a lot like Immigrant. I have nothing against immigrants, but children can be mean, and I didn't want you to have that nickname."

"Well, I LOVE Emma Grace," she chirped gleefully. "Call me Emma."

The youngest was tugging at my sleeve at this point, frantic for her name.

"You," I said tapping the end of her nose with my finger, "were going to be Amy Michelle if I had my way."



"Hmmm," she pondered.

Finally, she smiled with approval. "OK. Call me Amy."

I laughed. "I think we need to finish our lunch."

Never did I think that little conversation would go beyond our lunch table. Yet, two years later, my children have become quite smitten with their alter ego names.

To this day, hubby and I find letters and personal items with Keith, Emma and Amy on them. When they play "pretend," they use their "other names" to be super heroes.

They have even begun asking if they can change their names permanently when they get older. I have told them that, technically, they can. But that once you grow up with a name, it is very hard to escape from it, as people identify you that way.

(I still have people (20 years later) who call me by my maiden name. And I still answer to it.)

So, I indulge them in their little game- after all, I started it. But I hope they will eventually come to see the value of their given name. It identifies who they are and whose they are.

But you know what? I love them- no matter what they call themselves! I call them "mine", "special", "precious" and "loved."

1 comment:

ThePrincessMommy said...

While I love those names, I think I have heard you call your children other names as well - the same names I use on my children! Why didn't you mention those??? I think Keith, Emma and Amy, as would JL and KE, would prefer "D#$& It - get over here. Ding-dong - you too, get over here."