Last week, while I was helping the boys tidy their bedroom, I called Seth over for something...but instead of calling him by the name Seth, I used the name Asrat, the name that was his until a year ago. It's been quite a while since I've called him either Asrat or Seth Asrat, and I was curious to know how he would respond.
He didn't. Respond. He didn't look at me, didn't flinch, didn't so much as acknowledge having heard me...and I was watching for a response. He just kept talking to Matthew and tidying up his bed.
I called him Asrat again and, when he again didn't respond, I cleared my throat and said Seth. Then he looked at me and said "what, Mom?"
Me: "I'm curious to know how that felt for you, to be called Asrat again?"
Seth: "That's my middle name, Mom. I answer when you call me by my name: Seth. My name is Seth."
A few months ago I asked him if he missed being called Asrat and he said no. I diarized our short conversation about it. He said "in Ethiopia, Asrat or Seth Asrat or Seth; in Canada, Seth."
He said that he likes that both of his Ethiopia names (first and surname) are his middle names. I asked if he liked the name Seth.
In a tone that smacked of calling me an idiot, he said "yes, it's my name."
I asked again if he missed being called Asrat and he said "no" a little more dramatically, with hands held up in what do you want from me fashion.
I asked if he would prefer us to call him Asrat or Seth and and heaved an impatient sigh; he said: "why you keep asking me that? My name's Seth."
Maybe some day he will want to go back to his name of birth, I don't know. And that would be ok, too. But for now, it really does seem to me that he has really become, and suits, his 'new' name: he is Seth.
P.S. I also recently asked Lizzie if she wished she were called by her birth name. Her immediate response was this: "Mommy, you may call me Lizzie, or Lizzie Senait. I like dem both. Sometimes you may call me Elizabeth, which is my real name." Ok then.