Choose your battles. Don’t sweat the small stuff. It is what it is.
I believe in those mantras wholeheartedly. But there’s always that one thing that just needles you and the worm of irritation gets set in your skull. At that point the ability to listen to level-headed, logical advice seems to evade you. That’s where I’m at.
My daughter no longer wants to go by her lovely given name of Lainey, and now prefers (or rather demands) to be called Shadow. This has been going on for the last year, but it’s becoming more of an issue in the last few months. We got a note home from the teacher saying she refused to sign her given name and was handing in everything signed Shadow. She also battles it out with peers who won’t relent to the name preference, and corrects anyone who calls her what she was born with that her name that is actually Shadow, not Lainey. Sometimes she has success with it – like with our amazing Naturopath who made up her tincture with Shadow on the label (which scored big points), or with her Taekwondo coaches and teammates as they cheer her on. Her best friend has been calling her that since last summer and now asks to speak to Shadow when he calls to talk to her on the phone. She’s thrilled when someone does oblige with the name change, is miserable when someone resists, and has informed us on many occasions that she will be changing it the very day of her 16th birthday. Oy.
Overall, I’m not sure if it is a menacing Shadow, a mysterious Shadow, or a bright sunny day kind of Shadow – though that one might be wishful thinking. Regardless, Shadow is what she likes to be called.
But, here’s the thing – I can’t really do it. I feel like an idiot calling her Shadow. Not only do I like her name (as most mothers who pick names for their children do), but it just irks me every time I say her name and she corrects me. I’m a-0k with her friends calling her that, or her bribing her brother to use it, as in when he asks for a favour she says, “Call me Shadow for a whole week or no deal”. But for me to call out across the grocery aisle, “Shadow, grab a carton of yogurt, will you?” I just feel like a dolt. I tell myself to choose my battles, I tell myself this is a phase. I tell myself to lighten up.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for children expressing themselves. I don’t insist on certain kinds of clothes, or haircuts. I believe everyone is unique and special and should do what they need to do to shine and feel good about themselves. I want them to be happy – that’s it. The rest is gravy. But Shadow? Seriously? I just choke on it every time. Truth be told, I try not to call her any name these days, and if I need her attention, I call her hun or sweetie, or even dolly. But now that I’ve written it out, I guess those aren’t any less ridiculous than what she wants to be called.
When I was growing up, my childhood neighbour (who, like my daughter, is also an artistic soul – maybe that’s what’s going on here) went through a long phase where she wanted to be called Angel Rosebud. She used to give herself body tattoos with pen, and went an entire summer inking her bellybutton up to look like a giant sunburst. She also went about two full years without smiling in a single photograph. She turned out okay in the end, and we call her by her given name now. No Angel Rosebud required.
I may just have to toss in the towel on this one. Or maybe I’ll strike her a deal that I’ll call her Shadow if she calls me Ms. Marvelous. Remind me again – when does this get easier?