Me: "Who has the best seat in the house, me or daddy?"

Adam: "Well, Daddy's is nice, but yours is best. Your's is squishier."

Friday, February 8, 2013

By any other name...


I was named after my mother, Sharon.

Not many people know this, because from the very first day I was called by my middle name, Laine (pronounced Lane).  My mom always hated her name, Sharon, and I always knew that.  She had told me that it was dad who wanted to name me after her, though she protested.    There is a strange feeling that comes in being named after someone who hates their own name. 

So I always felt funny about my name.  Like it wasn't quite mine.  It felt like a hand-me-down dress that someone gave me because they never really liked it. 

Then one day, about two years ago, my dad told me a new story.  Sort of an addendum.  I said something about dad having named me, and he said, "Well, truth be told you sort of named yourself."

He told me that they had called me "Lane" from the day one (which begs the question, what is up with a totally unused FIRST name? but as usual, I digress...).  As it goes with fuzzy-headed little beings, a baby-fied version of my name began to be used; "Lainie". 

"One day when you were about four," he told me, "you announced that you would no longer answer to "Lane", that your name was Lainie, and that was that."

It was only a story, and it didn't really change a single concrete thing in my world.  It is still hard to order a pizza ("Um, how do you spell that?"... com'mon, kid, it's pizza, not my birth certificate, spell however the heck you want!).  I still can't sit in a doctor's waiting room without wondering where the heck that Sharon-woman went and why she isn't answering the dang nurse... oh, wait, that's me.  I still don't really know how to sign my name... S. L.?  Sharon L.? S. Laine?

But there is a sort of magic in knowing that, before I was even old enough for the outside world to have gotten in, as a small child I knew who I was.  I have always liked my name, but since learning that story, somehow I liked it more because I had some say in the matter.

I have always thought it was strange that people who just barely met us get to name us.  Some folks even name their babies before they ever meet them!  I know, I know, you say you KNOW them, yada yada.  OK for you, I suppose.  I don't feel like I know my kids till they have at least puked on me a few dozen times, and that is just the "pleased to meet'cha" phase.  Who they are, who they will be for years, for decades, for a lifetime???  That is a big, hairy deal.  What is in a name? A universe.

I read in a book called Dare Dream Do by Whitney Johnson, that in one hospital it was found that one surgeon had a 35% lower rate of complications and fatalities in his operating room than the rest of the surgeons.  The reason?  Before surgery, he insisted that everyone in the operating room know everyone else by name.  Introductions were made.  People, that before were just a green mask and scrubs, were now individuals.  It is believed that by voicing their own names, they later felt confident to speak up if they saw something that didn't seem quite right.  Lives were saved.  Somebody out there is playing ball with their kid today because a resident named Joe knew that the nurse next to him was named Carol.

I met a man named Shamus once.  What were his parents thinking?  Shame Us.  That was his name. "We are already disappointed in you son, just thought you should know".  It was like the character Willie Loman from Death of a Salesman.  The author named him Willie (Will he?) Low-man, to show us a man who may never amount to anything.  Names are important.  Our names are a huge part of who we are.  Just remember back to a time when someone called you by the wrong name and you know what I mean. 

I have been on the phone a lot lately with nurses.  To them I am Sharon, but to the nurse I spoke to yesterday, I was Laine.  She made it a point to remember that and call me by it, though her computer screen told her otherwise.  I felt like a real person to her, and she helped me more in one phone call than I had been helped in the past two dozen phone calls.  By the way, her name was Mary.

I have to choose a name for a small person soon, for them to use their whole lives! Not an easy task when you are married to a school teacher.  Guy has had at least one annoying student in his classes over the years with every one of the names I like. 

Wouldn't it be easier of we all just named ourselves?
If you could have chosen,
 what would you have named yourself?
What if this baby would just pop out
with a little name tag stuck to it's chest..
"Hello!  My name is..."

Good thing we have till June.


Anonymous said...

Have to comment on a name post!

I feel my name is so me, it's hard to decide on another. However, that is NOT to say that it's my favorite or the best idea for me. I think I look like Kaela, but I don't know if I really feel like Kaela because I think I deserve a darker, more mysterious kind of name. Thistle, Pagan, Crincethia, Dagmar... etc.

And I feel impulsively defensive of your judgment on degrading names, because I can only imagine your feelings on my son's name, Wolf / Wolfgang.

There's not much I can say on it, since, yes, to most Americans is probably does sound abrasive at first, except that after choosing the name we found out that my grandfather had chosen that name for my father, and didn't get to use it. It is his favorite name, the name he wanted to give to his firstborn son, but didn't.
So, it turned out to be a special way to honor that desire. Instead of his firstborn son, its his firstborn son's firstborn grandson's name.

Kind of cool, I think, since we had no idea of his interest in the name when we chose it.

Kristi Brausch said...

I like this post because everyone has something to say about their name. They like it, they don't.
My name is a common one, but I like that it's spelled with a K because that's less common. I don't have a middle name and always wished that I did. But growing up, most people I talked to didn't like their middle I had think twice about that one.

My Mom also goes by her middle name. Elda Ruth. Elda was her father's mother's name. It was supposed to be her middle name, but when her dad was blessing her in church he changed it. : D

Both my boys have family names. But if I knew how Peter was going to be as he got older I would have named him Blake, after my younger brother.

I wish you luck as you pick a name for your bundle of joy.