A few weeks ago, I was at the McDonald’s Playland with my four-year-olds. They were delighted to be there because one of their preschool friends was eating lunch with his grandparents, who were visiting from out of town. The kids shouted across the tables as they ate, then went off to play, and pretty soon it was time for their friend and his grandparents to leave. As she zipped up her grandson’s coat, the grandma turned to me and said, “Do you know if there’s a dollar store anywhere nearby?” I directed her to the nearest one, they left, and we soon followed them out to our car.
A minute later, a voice piped up from the back seat. “Mom? That lady asked you about a dollar store. Don’t we just call that a bank?”
Obviously, my kids haven’t spent enough time roaming the aisles of the local Dollar General, or Dollar Tree, or All a Dollar, or whatever that place down the street is called.
What’s in a name? When I first got pregnant, my husband and I had a list of naming rules a mile long (for example, the first name should have a long “i” and be either one or three syllables to provide balance to our two-syllable last name with a long “i”), which we broke over and over again as we picked six names for our kids. My mom was so proud of the unique spin she put on her favorite name from childhood when she named me Shelah, but she has resigned me to a lifetime of spelling it out. When we moved to Utah, I was a little disappointed to be moving to a street name that’s just a number, especially after growing up on the romantic (and maybe a tad pretentious) Margherita Lawn.
This month’s pieces both explore the power of names. Justine Dorton’s piece from our archive “Names” reflects back on the travails of grandmother (who escaped from Lithuania during WWII), and the power that her family name holds as a result. Dayna Patterson’s poem, “The Housewife Dreams of Names” in the world of naming daydreams and wordplay.
My guess is that you too have spent some time in the world of naming daydreams and will find a little bit of yourself in these pieces.
Shelah Mastny Miner