Friday, November 03, 2006

And Your Name Is?

So I have lots of more important things to blog about, but this one has really been bothering me, and it'll just take a second:
You all know I am the queen of "Why do you ask?" both in terms of using it and recommending it for use to transracial/multiracial/adoptive/open/nontraditional in anyway families. It works for most questions, and it helps guide our answers (or stops more questions from being asked). But here's one I can't figure out:
"What's her name?"
Rarely did people ask my son's name when he was a baby or toddler. "Hey, buddy." "Hi, little guy." "Hey there, handsome."

But everyone wants to know Miss I's name. Sometimes it's an attempt at a subtle way of acknowledging their acceptance of a family of our construction, a question in which one can casually use "your daughter," both to test it out and validate it: "What's your daughter's name?" (See, I get it, and I'm okay with you -- and if it's a mistake, it's a mistake in the enlightened direction). Or it might be a way of asking a question that is personal but not TOO personal, trying to get me to offer more than is asked, as if I'll blurt out "HernameisIandshewasadoptedfromEthiopiaandhereareallthepersonaldetailsofherrelinquishment." Or maybe it's a way to feel admitted into our inner circle, because we emit such a warm glow. Maybe they're taking a survey -- I like to hear about, and complain about, baby names too.

The problem is that I always feel compelled to answer, and they never forget. Add this to her incredible beauty and electric personality, and you have an intensification of our fame/infamy. I go to the grocery store a week later: "Hi, Miss I!" The clerk turns to another clerk. "This is Miss I. Check out those lashes!" (which, by the way, really are to die for). In another store, "Miss I! It's you!"

I'm not totally comfortable with strangers calling her by her first name, as if she knows them and they know her. I know that most people are harmless, but for the same reason that I don't sew ds's name on his backpack, I'm not comfortable with the world knowing Miss I.

But I can't exactly say, "Why do you ask?" to that, without seeming like a paranoid freak. (You'll probably all chastise me for ever having answered in the first place. Or maybe now I'm being the paranoid freak).


Lola said...

Hmmm... I thought people were just that way about babies and cute kids-- I went to the market with my friend and her little one in tow- Everyone wanted to know her name- as not a mom- in mainly annoyed me, cause I wanted to do some serious bonding and produce shopping- but my friend was split between being a hospitable Wisconsinite- and the validation that she produced something so beautiful- and maybe a slight bit of why are these people touching my baby. People generally like to talk about kids-- it's the LCD theory.

DS- is shy and Miss I, is far from- so it may come more natural to interact. I think what may help is just when someone asks- say- Hi-- I'm "insert name here", and you are?- Then say-- Miss I--- this here is "wanita the grocery store lady". Chances are they aren't sicko's that want to abduct your kids (and that's what my fear would be)-- the kidnappers usually don't introduce themselves to the mom- and this way you know their name- and they know you know their name. and maybe that'll get you extra cool deals at the stores :)

I don't think you are a freak at all- just protective and maybe a little worried because you see how independent she's going to be?

Keep in mind where ya lived when DS was I's age- could be something regional-- Travelling's helped me see just how difft people can be that live only 200-600 miles away

AMH said...

I have found that wherever we go, people shower our little one with attention. Like to an extreme. And sometimes I think it is a way of overcompensating... as you mentioned in your post, sort of a way of saying "your family is different but I'm okay with it so I'm going to show you I'm ok with it without saying it" kwim?

I mean, she IS a really cute, cute baby. She smiles and coos and giggles. People love her lashes too. So I dunno either how much of it is just her being cute and how much of it is people feeling the need to be overly nice so as to be sure that I "get" that they are ok with our transracial family.

EVERYONE asks her name too. I'm not sure why. I remember bringing her home and friends and acquaintances asking her name and then following it with "oh did you choose that or did her birth mom choose that?" The name is a unique one and not your typical "caitlin" or "meghan" and so people automatically assume that we, as white parents COULD NOT have chosen her name, because it is so exotic sounding. It irritates me.

Ok don't mean to hijack your post. It just struck a chord in me, as many of your thoughts do.

abebech said...

That's not hijacking at all -- I'm glad (but sorry too) that it isn't just me!