What’s in a Name?

Here it comes. I can feel it now. We’re the parents of a child who is “different.” Or “creative,” if you will. Possibly “precocious,” but more likely “difficult.” How about “spirited?”

As I was picking Lily up from her dance class, the teacher approached me. Lily takes lessons from the park district, and her teacher was just hired. She introduced herself to the parents last week and said she has teaching experience, but she looks very young. Which is not a bad thing. I was a young teacher—once.

“Sophia isn’t registered for class yet, so if you could please register her as soon as possible, that would be great,” says Miss R. Uh oh, I thought, I should have seen this coming.

“This is Lily,” I said, “Sophia is her pretend name.” At this, Miss R. looked very flustered, and realized that yes, Lily is registered in the class. I had told Lily to tell her teacher her real name, so that her teacher would know that we had paid for the class. But expecting a four-year-old to say her real name? I was asking too much.

“Should I call her Sophia?” Miss R. asked.

“No, just stick with Lily, and she’ll be fine.” I said. But there was more. Miss R. continued to inform me that both last week and this week she had to put Lily in a time-out for running around so much. In all the time that she has taught (what, two months?) she has hardly ever used time-outs. She really tries hard not to use time-outs. And yet Lily has already been in time-out twice. In a total of 90 minutes of class time. Was the fact that Miss R. doesn’t normally use time-outs supposed to make me feel better? Because it actually made me feel worse.

I know how Lily can be, so I quickly got over Lily being in a time-out. And about her not being registered? That’s pretty funny. Lily has long been known by other names. When she was two, she wanted to be called Michael, after the Little People character. I think that the whole concept of boy versus girl was totally lost on her. When she was three, she was Dora. That was unique, I’m sure. Now that she is four, she is Fairy-Princess Sophia.

Ed and I have both talked with Lily, and I’m pretty sure she will be well behaved next week. I know that experiences like this will make me a better teacher when I go back to the classroom. I hope so, anyway. I know that as far as being parents, Ed and I have only seen the tip of the iceberg. I wonder what’s next?

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