I tried to get people to call me by my middle name and was shot down; it was clear that I wasn’t going to be validated or supported. Advocating for children who want to be called a different name, advocate that to the other children regardless of whether you think they will or will not change their mind one day. – Derek Mortimer-Nelson
It has been beautiful this year watching various fluid name changes, the acceptance from the adults in their lives, and the absolute joy on P’s face when he call him by his new name.
It has been even more beautiful considering I have also been moving towards a name change.
O loves cats, and I would go so far as to say cats are his love language (when he is being affectionate or craving affection he turns into a cat – purring, curling up on your lap, and holding onto your earlobe delicately). He has jumped from one cat identity to another – pets of people he knows well. Lilah, Warez, Quincy. Lilah lasted for quite some time, and Warez makes some daily appearances as well. Some names lasted multiple days or sometimes longer. The adults in O’s life were happy to abide by the name O had chosen that day, each day.
“Hi, I’m Paul” can be heard all day long in my classroom, sometimes as a reminder when people call P by his former name, sometimes just as reassurance and enjoyment. Our question of the week was, “Who is your favorite musician?” and P said. ‘Paul McCartney’. My co-teacher, C, asked P if is Paul like Paul McCartney and he said no, he is just Paul.
Today, P said, “I’m Paul.” and G replied, “I’m Paul too.” Paul froze, turned around and said, “You’re Paul? Paul like Paul McCartney or just Paul?” G replied, “Paul. I’m just Paul.” P smiled and said, “You’re just Paul like me, same same.”
These two events create awareness that this name change isn’t simply pretending to be Paul, which was a suspicion for awhile since the Beatles are very big in our classroom. (Our second Paul later decided on George.)
I recently decided to change my name, after being reminded that I could. I think while I have wanted to do this for awhile, the only reason it was so much easier to commit to and to finally do the thing was being inspired by my classroom this year. O jumping from name to name, trying them on like a new pair of pants; Paul cheesing anytime someone calls him by his name. It was and is incredible to watch and I am forever inspired by this group of toddlers.