The Name Game
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”
William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)
Oh yes, I’m quoting Shakespeare, get me! Gone are those base days of a pretzel in the potty. No, wait, they’re back.
Names. We go by aliases on this blog, for reasons of security, but rest assured that our kids have real names. Pudding’s name is pretty ordinary (something about her had to be!), but Cubby goes by a nickname (other than Cubby) most of the time. When Cubby was born and we introduced him to his sister she screeched his name. That was weird, I remember thinking, because…well, it was. Then we discovered that every time she said his name she would do it with the same screech. It was awful, and it went on for months. When I finally became worried about her language and she had her first speech evaluation, I mentioned it to the therapist. She’d never heard of a kid doing this before, but felt that it might be connected to her mixed emotions about having a new sibling. I couldn’t bear that he grew up answering to that screech, and something had to be done. Pudding continued to do it, and no amount of coaching her would change the way she said it, so we decided to change his name.
Now, he has the kind of name that lends itself well to being shortened. Imagine for a moment he is called Donald, and we switched it to Don. It works well, but it just didn’t seem to fit a 6 month-old baby. So we played around and discovered that we liked the sound of his first and middle names together. Imagine Don John for instance. Way better than the screech, and it stuck. That became his name, and he got more used to hearing that than “Donald”.
Like Pudding, he learned his name at the same time other babies do. He’ll happily pick put himself in a photo album and say “Don-John”. He even seems to know that “Donald” is also his name, though he usually only gets that now when he is in trouble. He comes when I call him (most of the time), so I figured we were done with this, the box marked “knows his name” had been checked off, and we could move on to other things.
Grandma was visiting last week, and she asked Cubby what his sister’s name was, and he told her “Pudding”. We gave him a round of applause. See how smart my boy is knowing that? Genius. A little Einstein, if you will. Except when she then asked him what his name is, he again replied with “Pudding”. Ruh-ro. What I imagine is happening is that Cubby has listened to Pudding answer the question, “What is your name?”, and connected the name part with the Pudding part. Name = Pudding. Whatever else we proceed it with just sounds like Charlie Brown’s teacher talking. It doesn’t matter whether I want to know my, your, his, her name, it always = Pudding to him.
I’m unchecking the box, and trying to establish that name = Cubby, then name = different depending on who is being asked. You know though, unlearning something seems to be way harder than learning it when echolalia is in the mix. It is like how Pudding was “two, almost three” for weeks after her third birthday. I’d better start to prepare her now for December. Does anyone have any tips for making this process easier?
Here is another kicker. He has also learned to answer “Pudding” to the question: “Who does Mummy love?” Break my heart, little man, why don’t you?
One last thought: it is way more difficult than you’d think to write a post about names using aliases.
♥Σ◊ψ♣ – The artist formerly known as Spectrummy Mummy.