Monday, November 26, 2012

A Girl by Any Other Name...

I don't have a daughter named Gracie anymore. Now, don't be alarmed. The daughter formerly known as Gracie is alive and well, and still has shiny hair.

But she's decided she is done with being called Gracie. She doesn't even want to be called Grace, which is sort of what I thought she'd go by when she grew up. Nope, Grace is too common, she says. Too boring -- there are at least 2 other girls in her grade called Grace.

Besides, Gracie isn't even her name, my 7-year-old is quick to remind me. "It's Donna, which is much, much prettier than Grace."

Actually, that's true. But I'm going to be honest when I say I'm a bit conflicted. Ever since the moment I had my first crazy pregnancy dream, and decided it was surely a name-choice premonition, I had myself a little baby Gracie.

You see, I'd wanted for years to name my first daughter Donna Grace, after my grandmother, who is one of my most favorite people in the whole wide world. But, also, I really loved the name Isabella - and as I did not know Isabella would be one of the top baby names of that year, if not THE TOP, I was torn.

And THEN I had my aforementioned crazy pregnancy dream in which I was picking up my two-year-old daughter from daycare. She was this impish little blonde thing, with big blue eyes and short curly hair, and a little pony tail sticking out the top of her head.

"Isabella! Get your stuff!" I called to her.

And what did darling little Isabella do?

She put her hands on her hips and stomped her foot and said, "I NOT Isabella, I GRACIE."

"Come on, Isabella! Get your stuff!" I continued. But nope, this little urchin was too much like myself, and she wasn't having any of this wrong-name business. 

By the way, did you know my name is pronounced MER-EEE-SA? Yep, it rhymes with Lisa, and yes, I will correct anyone who repeatedly mispronounces it. I might even put my hands on my hips and stomp my foot about it, as I HATE when people call me the wrong name. So. I can understand why little "Isabella" was voicing her objections.

Naturally, when I woke up, I figured my dream was really my baby telling me to stop messing around with the wrong name, and go with the name I wanted to call her the most. I have never had second thoughts about it.

(Although, I learned soon after not to trust my dreams as prophetic. But only after I FREAKED for many pregnant months over the fact that we might have to deal with the life challenge of our baby being both a hermaphrodite AND Siamese twins. Stupid crazy pregnancy dreams...)

Well, my blue-eyed blondie is digging in her heels again. Not like when she was in kindergarten, and said she was changing her name to Melissa. This time, she told all her classmates and teacher to call her Donna.

When did we find this out? Weeks after the fact, when Will and I were helping chaperone one of Gracie's classmate's b-day parties, and one of the boys corrected Will.

"Um, actually, her name isn't Gracie, it's Donna," the boy told him.

Um, okaaaay then.

So, for the first time since the No-we-will-not-call-you-Melissa days, my kiddo absolutely loves her name. And the best part for her is that it IS her name.

But my favorite part of the name story is about how my Grammy - the original Donna Grace of the family - got her name. You see, my grandma wasn't originally called Donna. Nope, when she was born, she was given the name Dawn. It was her older sister Nina (who pronounced her own name Nigh-Na until she moved to Pasadena, and changed it to the long E pronunciation so she could be 'Nina from Pasadena') who was entrusted with the job of going to the bank to fill out the birth certificate.

The name Dawn was BORING, in Nina's opinion. She secretly decided Dawna would be much more fun. When my grandma turned 16 and went to pick up her birth certificate before immigrating to the US from a farm in New Brunswick, Canada, she was quite surprised.

(though perhaps not as surprised as her older sister Henrietta, who discovered, upon picking up her birth certificate at age 16, that her name was in fact Bernice Juanita - picked by that same sister, because Nina thought Bernice Juanita had WAY more pizazz).

My grandma decided, while she was undergoing her unexpected name change, that she would spell it Donna instead of Dawna. Sometimes she wishes she'd kept the unique spelling, but I'm glad she at least kept the name -- and so is my own little Donna Grace.

Also, want to know the craziest thing? When Gracie was two years old, I took this picture of her, and when I saw it, I had CHILLS - this is SO the baby Gracie from my crazy premonition dream. Also, this picture was taken whilst I was telling her to stop stomping her brand new sneakers in a bucket of water - such a Gracie moment.

I haven't gotten used to my kiddo's name change. All the nicknames she's ever had tie into her baby name. Gracie Goose. Grackmeister G, Gracie so Cray-cie, Gracie Doodle Dandy....

She mentioned that I could call her Bella Donna - which means Beautiful Lady - and which I quickly informed her is a poisonous plant that also goes by the name of Deadly Nightshade, so maybe I can call her that. She laughed her head off, and didn't mind THAT for a nickname.

Also, as soon as Gracie got her wish, and I called her Donna for the first time, Annelie said, matter-of-fact, "And I'M going to go by my middle name. From now on, you can all call me CECELIA."

To that I quickly said, "NO WAY, not until you're at LEAST seven."

Will both my kids end up with name changes? Who knows. But incidentally, I chose to spell Annelie's middle name as Cecelia rather than Cecilia, because I liked Cece or Celia as nicknames, just in case.



Leah said...

She'll be Donna everywhere except home, right? BTW, my little Isabella corrects me whenever I call her "cutie" or "sweetie" - "I'm not a cutie, I'm an Isabella!"

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Neither of my daughters has tried to change her name, at least not yet.

But the story of your grandmother's name is similar to the story of MY grandmother's name. My grandmother thought her name was Margaret Edith all her life, until in her 60's, she applied for a passport to visit Italy and needed her birth certificate. That's when she found out her name was Jennie Margaret.

She had to piece together the mystery by consulting various family members -- but since the principal players were all dead, it is only speculation that her uncle was asked to fill out the birth certificate for the family and gave her his wife's name without telling anyone.

The things people will do, huh?

Kelly Polark said...

That is hilarious that a boy corrected Will about the name!!!

Your girls are one of a kind!

Maria Mainero said...

Sounds like changing names runs in the family :) Love this story.

Kay Karma said...

I'm new, but you're awesome. Just thought you should have another confirmation to that fact =)

Anonymous said...

Are you guys okay? You haven't posted in forever. Hope things are going well for you!

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