Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What's in a name?

Probably everything. At least, I'm assuming that's what the therapist is going to say when D shows up in a few years blaming mama for his pre-teen identity crisis. The truth is, not even I can figure out what to call my little Squirticus. Aiden just doesn't seem right to me, no matter how often I try to use it. Over the course of our first few days with Dinkeneh, I was deeply moved by the sound of his name on the nannies lips: the low "dee," the clicking "k" that almost drowned out the "n," the breathless questioning rise of the "ahnah." It was musical and magical, this name, delivered almost as if the speaker were calling for a lost child. And if the name itself were magical, then the response from Dinkeneh was even more so. The lighting up of the eyes, the half-smile playing on his lips, that delighted "You found me!" look. I fell in love with that look, and that first night I practiced his name over and over and over again, trying to get just the right tone, trying to manage that unfamiliar "k" sound without stumbling over the remainder. I remember lying in bed with Chris, each of us trying to perfect the other's pronunciation, both of us probably sounding utterly ridiculous. It was the verbal equivalent of doodling your crush's name all over your notebook, only this time with guttural "k"s and high-pitched squeaks in place of the normal hearts and flowers. What can I say?

We were in love.

In the past few weeks, we have been asked with increasing frequency what we are going to call our son. And the question is a reasonable one. After all, we've been home for over seven months, and we send mixed signals out on a regular basis. Just take a look at the remaining posts on this blog page. I'm sure you'll find us referring to D by at least three names, maybe four, by the end of it. Sure, a couple might be nicknames. But I still feel like we owe it to D to have (and consistently use) one "official" name for him. Should it be Dinkeneh? Maybe that's cruel, here in the States where it's difficult to pronounce and has no easy abbreviated version that we can come up with. We often call him "D" for short (my use of the letter "D" on the blog is obviously not to protect privacy). But what kid wants to write just one letter for his name? I'm sure his Kindergarten teacher would love us. Or we could revert to Aiden. Obviously, we like the name or we wouldn't have chosen it. And it is a name that we chose for him, something that, as his parents, we can add to his story. But at the end of the day,

it's just not Dinkeneh.

13 comments:

Mark and Sarah said...

I love love love the name Dinkeneh...and upon meeting him in person, it suits him so well. I am going to ask an Ethiopian to say it for me so I can hear the beautiful pronunciation.

Stacy said...

although ultimately Lucy became Lucy I had the SAME experience in Ethiopia and still have video of her responding to Eskedar.

AnnMarie & Nick said...

I am so glad to hear that there is someone else out there struggling with the same thing we have been- the name game. Good luck with your decision- look at the bright side he sure has a lot of cute names to choose from:)

cathy said...

Z is "legally" named Jon Zinabu. David's middle name is Jon and we wanted to use it JUST IN CASE Z hates his Ethiopian name at age 14. We have never once called him Jon, but I am now realizing what a pain it is to have a legal first name you never use. Every time I fill out paperwork I forget to write Jon and then have to add it in. Or, now that Z started preschool, I had to tell the teachers to remove all the tags they had so carefully labeled Jon and change them to Zinabu. Oops. And I for the record... I like D. It's a great nickname. Z works for us.

Anonymous said...

ok, now i'm confused. aiden's not dinkeneh or dinkeneh's not dinkeneh? no really, i think if his face lights up when you say his name....go with it. love you guys


katie

Anonymous said...

It sounds like you've answered your own question. You love his Ethiopian name-- go with it!

Kimberley said...

I feel ya over here too!!! People are constantly asking us if it is Keziah or Wubitu. I just say either one works, Wuby answers to both. This usually doesn't satisfy though as everyone wants a clear cut answer. Wuby starts preschool next week and we let her chose which name she wanted to be called, and she picked Wubitu...but she has the option to change her preference any time she wants. I like D as a nickname...it is really cute!!!

paige said...

We named our daughter (5 mos upon meeting, 22 mos now) as well, and now, 17 months later, she responds with her Ethiopian name when asked what her name is. We've always used Astrid (the name we chose) and Meklit interchangably, often calling her both--she isn't a bit confused, and as she gets older she has two lovely names to scorn in favor of Arianabella, or some other moniker she likes the sound of. I love Dinkeneh, both the sound of it, and the meaning.

Spring said...

I also love the name Dinkeneh. We kept our daughter's birth name (she is 8, also Ethiopian) and she is okay with explaining how to pronounce it every time she meets someone. She's proud of it!

Spring at www.SignsOfFaithBook.com

Cindy said...

What a lovely description, very nice. I remember trying to say my boys' names just as I heard the nannies do it (light, breathy, musical Ethiopian accents and all). Truth is, Ethiopians still correct me when asked about their names :(.

Your D baby is sooo cute! And another beautiful bald head (two of my three were so bald for sooo long and I always felt odd person out on forum picture parades).

I know, why don't you call him Dinkeneh!? Perfect! Your son's kindergarten buddies (Heaven, Trinity, Ocean, River, Sandeep, and even Johnny) will love it :)

-Cinds

Chatter said...

I can still hear the nanny's saying Biruk's name over and over again adding eee to the end. SO we still refer to him as Biruk-eee. I love his name and I'm glad with our choice. Best of luck with the name game. He is such a beauty!!

Nancy said...

When we came home I had such guilt and difficulty calling M the name I chose for her. I loved the meaning of her name and the high-pitched way the nannies affectionately called her name. Her name was the only tangible connection left to Ethiopia. It was a hard call. So I just used both names interchangeably until one name or the other stuck. We use her chosen name but do call her her Ethiopian name.

Deirdre said...

I love Dinkeneh as a name, and he could always shorten to Din or Ken or Kenny. We were worried about kids taking to Sidamo's name, but none of the kids in his preschool has even batted an eyelash. Adults have more trouble with it, and if they really just can't grasp it we tell them to call him Damo. I have a name that is constantly butchered (people call me Desiree all the time), and I'm not much worse off for it. Though growing up I did always want to be named Julie. :-)