Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Sarah by any Other Name

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
by any other name would smell as sweet."  
  Romeo and Juliet

Juliet Capulet is not the only person asking herself that. Fred and I have been pondering the answer to that riddle for a long time now. When we were just beginning to consider names for children way back when, Fred made the decision there would be no funny business when it came to naming our brood. I was not allowed to even entertain interesting sounding ideas. He would quickly cross off anything that hinted at trendy and replace it with a nice solid traditional choice. Years later, I am ever grateful for this hidden and merciful wisdom as I contemplate some of the options I was steered clear of.

We spent nine months battling over the names of our kids, before we would agree and commit. We’d wait for the long anticipated birth, commence the cuddling, clothing, feeding and diapering process. We’d  teach said child to walk and talk, and then one day the ingrate would go and change his/her name. 

The latest name change in a long list of name changes has been Sarah’s. Sarah is two years old and looking at her is like looking at a chubby version of Mary. She is shy and funny and smart as a whip. She announced to us all just recently,

 “I, Eliva Greene”

 Eliva Greene?

That’s one I’ve never heard before, even in Hollywood.

Yup, she’s going with it.

She answers to it when called; she tells people her new name while she giggles and marches onward.
“Eliva! Eliva Greene! Where are you?” Giggles and more giggles abound.
It’s not the first time I have seen this behavior. A good portion of my children have renamed themselves at one point or another during their early and not so early years.


Matt Baby Big boy was a daringly good one (for short we were allowed to call him Matt Baby.)
John Paul decided his name should be Taxi and though we could never figure that choice out, we respected it none the less.
Mary Joan is still convinced her name is Mary Jones and she tells all she meets so, which has earned her the additional nick-name in our family of Jonesey.

Of all the ways we define ourselves a name certainly says a whole lot. Falling in love with a “Fred” was an awakening for me from stereotypes that conjured up images of middle aged men who like Nascar and talk radio. (oh wait -  that’s not a stereo type.) In truth Fred, was actually named for his maternal grandfather. Try to picture my mother-in-law if you will, born and raised on an estate in Kingston, Jamaica with her English accent saying “we’ll name him after my father; Frederick Horace Wildman Munn”, and you will see a radically different picture of what she was shooting for from the Freddy, my Freddy, my hammer swinging-willful-determined-carpenter-is-my-middle-name-all-male-husband. Say what you will, but I am ever grateful his mother didn’t insist on the Horace or Wildman middle names also.
Thankfully, most of my kids have decided that as parents they are pleased with our name choices. You can view the list below turned into a poem by my dear friend Josh. He was trying to teach his son Stephen how to remember my children’s names when our families had first become friends and the room full of unfamiliar faces was a bit intimidating.( We have added 2 children to the list since its writing and so have adapted it to include everyone.)

What We Call Ourselves
Andrew, Peter, and then John-Paul
Matthew, Joseph, name them all.
Thomas, Michael, there’s no Larry
Next in line a girl named Mary.
Sarah has a sweet kind face
And last not least, Sophia Grace.

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