Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What is in a name?

O E F as in frank , I N G E R.  This is what we say EVERY time we are asked to spell our last name.  Took me some getting used to, as my maiden name is Curtis, easy, simple,  very common but not too interesting either.  We have been called O finger, F finger, D finger, and an often very difficult to understand mumbling pronunciation from well meaning Safeway clerks.  It never annoyed me when the name was mispronounced.  It has, however, annoyed our daughter.  It has annoyed her to the point of her informing us years ago that she would change it when she was 18.  Whenever possible she would intercept a teacher before her name was called on the first day of school instructing them on the correct pronunciation.  In fact, one teacher could never get his head around the silent E in the OE combination and during roll call simply called….Alyssa, while the other students were on the last name basis. We would argue with her about this silly insecurity.  We even sought therapy around it concerned if it was a deep seeded need to not claim us as family?  She pleaded with us not to over analyze.  She loved us.  She loved our family. She simply did not want to go through life constantly correcting people.  The conversations around this were exhausting.  Finally, we gave up.  Told her if she wanted to do it, she was on her own.  We would not invest one cent or one minute of time into this name thing change.

 Good to her word, come 18th birthday, she began the process.  She saved her money, researched, called, emailed, then applied for the change, spoke to her college, informed her high school of the change, DMV, social security, bank, friends, family and others.  It was not an easy process and she did do it all on her own, knowing better than to ask us for help.  Today it’s official this new last name of hers. Thankfully, she only changed 2 letters, perhaps in an effort to temper her mom and dads insecurities.  So, I can look at it as rebellious.  I can look at it as silly.  I can look at it as an insult to our family.  Or, I can look for the truth, a strong, fiercely independent young woman who knows what she wants and will go after it.  These latter qualities will serve her well.  

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