What's in a name?
When GL was a few months old I used to take long afternoon walks in our old neighbourhood that we liked more than our new one. On one occasion I ran into a woman just arriving home with her son who was excited that we had a baby too. She was very kind and offered her apartment up to us since GL had started to cry and we were not close to home. We declined on account of stranger danger, and, thankfully, GL calmed so we had a brief discussion about our babies. She asked our one's name, which is unusual (the name, not that she asked), and when we told her she looked surprised and said "Oh, that is very different". She wasn't rude about it, but her comment had a twinkle of pity in it for daring to be unique. I asked her son's name and she replied confidently "This is Soham".
So, you know, "different" is relative. In Hawaii, almost every name is different and new for us. GL and L's classmates have the most spectacular array of names that had not previously shown up on any of our birthday party guest lists. The names are beautiful and distinctly Hawaiian: Kainoa, Kahiana, Kainalu, Lilikoi ...
The majority of children in L's class have Hawaiian names. The other day he came home telling me that a girl in the other class was bothering him. Evidently she kept saying that he and another little girl (called Malia) who is roughly the same height as him with the same shade of blonde hair looked like "twinsies". Firstly, I told him I understood why that was bothering him, but suggested that perhaps there were worse things to be targeted for. And truthfully, I see where she's coming from ... they really do look like twins.
I guess she was also trying to make them hug, rationalising that as twins they must love each other, and what better way to demonstrate that than by hugging? I agreed that was a bit annoying and, while likely innocent, probably inappropriate. It is a very strict school and I can only imagine where hugging in the playground would land you. It came up on a couple of occasions and at first he said he didn't know her name, but then one day he jumped in the car looking proud of himself for his detective skills, announcing that he'd figured it out: her name was Python.
Okay. I mean, Hawaii is cool, but I don't know that anyone is "name your daughter after a snake" kinds of cool.
You know those times when you realise your child is calling something by the wrong name but you actually know what they're trying to say and you can correct them (this just happened ... L thought cinnamon was cidamon)? This was not one of those times. I figured her name wasn't Python but couldn't come up with a viable alternative. I *may* have suggested he start calling himself Serpent before letting him know that there was a chance he had Python's name wrong.
Two days later he got in the car and told me that, yes, he was wrong, but that NOW he had it ... her name was actually Pyther (in his Australian accent, Py-tha). Far be it for me to truly question this because, well, you can call your child whatever you want and I'm new enough in Hawaii that I don't know if that's an actual name, although it sounded nothing like a Hawaiian name (see above). I asked if he was sure it wasn't Piper and he told me again, really slowly since clearly I wasn't getting this, that it was Py-THA. Then he repeated it, just to make sure I got it. Pyther.
Well, I checked out the class list and while there was no Pyther or Python, there was actually a Piper, which is still not at all Hawaiian but at least it's not a snake. No offense to anyone whose baby was named after a reptile. Look, I don't care ... you do you.
L has fully embraced the Hawaiian language. He has a bit of an accent and is learning new words every week that he teaches us. I love Aloha Kakahiaka, which means "good morning", but my absolute favourite is E Komo Mai, not least because he says it with an Italian accent for no apparent reason and typically he says it out loud at the most random times, like as we're walking through Target. E Komo Mai means "welcome". Between L's Hawaiian and GL's Chinese, soon I won't understand anyone.
And speaking of misunderstandings, Starbucks still doesn't get my name right. Everyone tells me to use a different Starbucks name, but I'm never quick enough and I think you have to be better at lying than I am to pull this off. I get that there's nobody calling you out on your fake Starbucks name, but Hawaii is all about community and it seems like bad juju to lie to the people you see every day. Usually I get Melinda, but once I got Valinda and the other day I got Aliza ... that's not even close. I feel like I need to see a speech therapist. It seems I'm having some issues articulating. One thing's for sure ... if I do use a fake Starbucks name, it's definitely going to be Python.