Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Rose By Any Other Name...

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.

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