Saturday, September 27, 2008

What's in a Name?

My daughter is a silly little almost-seven-year-old. The other day, she came home and told me that she doesn't like her name. After very, very much discussion, I finally learned that she doesn't like her name because ... wait for it ... because she doesn't think she can hear very well. Huh!?

She's complaining that her hearing isn't very good because she can't hear what other people are whispering about, and can't read lips. I tried to tell her that when other people are whispering to each other, they don't want her hearing what they have to say, and that there are very few people in the world who are good at reading lips, but there's no convincing her.

I believe that she hears just fine, but most of the time she doesn't listen very well. There is a fine distinction there, that's for sure, but again, there's no convincing her. She is a very obstinate little girl, who has turned into a book worm of the best (worst?) kind -- a focused and determined reader who can ignore everything happening around her. We'll probably end up taking her to the doctor and have her hearing formally checked before she'll even consider the fact that her hearing is fine. Even then, she may not believe us, because she's still convinced she can't see well, despite passing with flying colors the vision tests they just did at school.

Anyway, so back to the name thing. She's been complaining that she wants a different name. We told her that when she's 18, she can pay the thousands of dollars it takes to make a legal name change. She didn't like that idea very much.

When I started one particular conversation, I flippantly said we could call her "Rose" because she's pretty, smells good (most of the time), but can be all prickly, too. To my astonishment, she loved the idea, and now she keeps complaining that we don't call her Rose. This name is unacceptable for a variety of reasons, but secondarily because I have another relative very close to me with that name.

Primarily, however, the name is unacceptable because it isn't what her mother and I named her. We gave her the name she has for a very good reason, and we love it. It is a cute name with a cute name-fragment that we call her most of the time. It matches her perfectly, and we have absolutely no intention of abandoning it on some youthful whim.

Even so, my wife and I have been having some interesting conversations with her. We spent some time talking with her about how names don't really matter, and I related a story to her that I had once read about a man who named one of his sons "Winner" and a different son "Loser", wondering if their names would define their person. As it turned out, things were exactly opposite in the long-run: Winner went to jail, and Loser was quite successful in life. This conversation mellowed her a little bit.

We even looked up what her name meant, and it turns out that her name is a diminutive form of a name that means "Pearl". Strangely enough, though we didn't know it, it turns out that with this meaning my daughter is named for one of her great-grandmothers (which makes her name just as good as her older brother's, which is from one of his great-grandfathers). When I shared this with her, she got contemplative.

During this last day, she hasn't been asking too much about it. My wife and I have pretty much decided to ignore any future pleadings to call her something else. We won't even entertain the conversation because it just upsets her; we will instead change the subject when it comes up. After all, she's got a perfectly good name which we love, and, well, we are her parents and that's what we call her.

Once I suggested that we should call her Malfooney Bibblesnap. She didn't like that at all.


So this post doesn't make much sense. On the one hand, I'm telling her that her name doesn't matter, but on the other hand I'm telling her that her name is important. So, whatever. It's late at night and I'm tired.

Bottom line, the most important name is her last name. I would that she would respect it, and set a good example so that people would always associate the family name with honor and reverence. I once started telling her about this, but it soon became apparent that she is just too young to comprehend that principle -- or at least was not in a fit frame of mind to comprehend it. Many phrases come to mind, such as "Remember who you are!" and "What are you doing with my name?" Useless to an almost-seven-year-old

It's a phase. It will pass.

1 comment:

Melissa said...

I've always loved the name Megan, and Meg. I think every kid goes through a phase of wanting a different name.

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