Just try prying that name change application out of my cold, dead hands

Thalia and Sage wake up this morning and toddle in together to the living room where I was already awake and working.

The first words out of Thalia’s mouth, even before good morning, are that from now, on her name is going to be Joanna.

“Oh is that so?” I ask.

“I was tired of Sage always yelling HALLLL-YAAAAA and so I’m now Joanna. Also because of this necklace. This pretty necklace with beads. It’s in a pattern and people who have this pattern are named Joanna. And Sage wants to call me Joanna.”

“And what about you Sage? Do you have a new name too?”

She considers it for a minute.


Poppy and Joanna? Um…no.

All I could think about was how freaking long Nate and I took picking the name Thalia and how I very nearly left him over the fact that he’d sooner call her Clinton Portis than Tillie for my great-grandmother. Then I think about how we spent so long naming Sage we had to beg the internet for help. (And still, he wanted to name her Clinton Portis.)

My first instinct wasn’t simply to laugh at the nonsensical ramblings of a preschooler, but to feel a little bad that she was rejecting the name we had thoughtfully chosen for her. As if it were a tricycle when what she really wanted was a pony. Or a Dora balloon. Or a rock.

A rock named Joanna.

Suddenly I had a completely new perspective about the time I came home from day camp in second grade and told my mother I wanted to be named Maria.


59 thoughts on “Just try prying that name change application out of my cold, dead hands”

  1. Kids’ ideas of what comprises a great name never seems to match our own. Hannah was telling me just the other day that she wants her first son to be named George. Incidentally, this will also be the name of her husband. There is nothing wrong with George, it’s just not a name I’d pick.

    She has also told me that she wished I named her Jennifer. Sigh.

    Joanna is still a bit lyrical, and has an appeal, methinks. But I get why you prefer Thalia.

  2. Heh heh heh. Now I am remembering how I used to call Sage Clintonia Portia before she was born.

    Your kids have COOL names. I bet they will really like them as they get older. I think all kids just like to try on different names and different identities at times. I wanted to change my name to Princess Leia when I was Thalia’s age. This is why you have to be eighteen to change your own name 😉

  3. Haha…I changed my name FROM Joanna when I was 19. I’ve since gone back to Joanna. I also insisted that my 11th grade English teacher refer to me only as Violet as I’d changed it over the summer.

    As far as my kids go, they like to rename themselves various things. Duncan frequently becomes Mickey Duncan (i.e. Mickey Mouse), or decides to be Berry for a while or a baby bird or…you never know what it’s going to be.

  4. My name is spelled the traditional way and I always wished it was different – Alyson or Allyson. My mom’s reasonin was she like the way “Allison” looked versus my other options.

  5. I wanted my name changed to Margarita or Rosy when I was about 3 or 4. My parents didn’t even humor me for a moment… Thank goodness. Although Poppy is kinda cute.

  6. Dude, they’ll be happy when they grow up and are not one of 10 Emma’s in their class (no offense to the adorable Emma’s out there…it’s just that there are about 10 in Laurel’s school and they all have to use first name + last initial to delineate them).

    Laurel hasn’t asked for a name change yet; but she may very well soon because every time we pass one of those freakin’ personalized barrette/mug/pencil stands and her name is NEVER one of the options, she looks a little disgruntled. I imagine you guys run into the same problem! -christine

  7. I can relate. I wanted to be a Jennifer or Michelle when I was little because most of my friends were. Now I’m glad I’m not. : )

    They are precious…

  8. My daughter has changed her name and religion a couple of times. I told her I will still call her by the name we gave her, even if it is a stripper name. (Note: Never tell expecting first time parents that the name they loving picked out reminds you of a stripper.)

  9. I am so glad you didn’t go with Clinton Portis. It calls to mind clitoris, or a little nook and cranny somewhere in the vagina. Not that that’s a bad thing, just not a great name for a toddler.

    I wanted to change my name from Susannah to Penny. Thalia is beautiful, as is Sage. They’ll get it, sooner or later. 🙂

  10. When I was small, I thought that Crystal was the greatest name. EVER. I had a serious thing for Crystal Gayle’s hair and I named all of my dolls Crystal.

    Now I know that Crystal is a name best reserved for someone who might need rhinestones and fringe as a part of her work uniform.

  11. I remember wanting different names at various points in my childhood. I think it’s pretty common, and doesn’t usually last.

    But what I really wanted to say is that I knew a mom who allowed her daughter to change her name. I don’t remember the exact name it was changed from and to, and I probably wouldn’t say if I did because, hello, internet. But our very nice family friend decided that if it mattered so much to her 4-year-old she’d go with it. And it stuck. I don’t know if it stuck forever, but certainly for years it did. I don’t think I would be nearly so understanding myself.

  12. Oh Somo I did once tell someone that his baby would grow up to be a stripper.

    It was my boss.

    Good move.

  13. My daughter asks us to call her by her middle name about once every two weeks. Her middle name is ok but it was an “honour a dead relative name” and I adore her first name. So I know what you mean. It makes me sad to have her “reject” the name we chose for her. I know it’s just a phase and she’ll likely get over it. But man, that is a hard one! Especially when half of my extended family actually go by their middle names instead of their first names!

  14. I don’t know what it is that is so empowering to kids about being able to “name themselves”. When I was 11 I decided that the coolest thing I could do was move to Manhattan and change my name to Brandi DuBois (the “i” was a must..not “y”). The best, though, was when my nephew decided he needed to be called “Green Bob” (LONG story about the name) and would have a complete mental breakdown if you didn’t call him his “chosen” name.

  15. I love your kids’ names, and I’m sure when they are older they will too.

    The boy who will be born in mid-June still does not have a name. We are having serious problems agree on names, and hubby hasn’t even attempted Clinton Portis… although he did throw out Santana (as in Moss).

    I guess it doesn’t matter that much, does it? They will want to change their names no matter what we pick!

  16. I console myself by thinking that my kids will really appreciate their unique names when they are older, but right now they really would like to be named Crystal, Stacy, and Princess.

    I always wanted to be named Suzie.

  17. When Sweet Girl was very young, she stomped into the living room and demanded to know, “Why didn’t you know I wanted to be named Vicki?”

  18. when I was pregnant with my second, my first son demanded we name the baby Carl. Or Horse. Or Swingset. We went with Elijah. My first is still pissed.

  19. I’m sure I wanted to change my name when I was a little kid, but I just don’t remember it. My sister, on the other hand, wanted to be forever known as Potpourri. We all threatened to shorten it to “Pot”. Needless to say, she rethought the matter once we started referring to her as “Pot” on a regular basis!

  20. Maison did the same thing a few weeks ago. Said she wanted to be called Tara. We went with it, but kept mentioning how much we missed Maison and how much fun we had with her. All of a sudden, Maison was back!

  21. Will the ever recognize the brilliance in their names? Probably not until we ld to understand their thanks.

  22. That’s so funny because every time I read your blog I think about how much I LOVE your girls’ names. If nothing else, if I ever have a little girl, Sage will be her middle name. I LOVE it.

  23. hmmm makes me wonder if it’s something all kids go thru. for about a month in 5th grade, i declared to be called shelly- which now i couldn’t stand if someone were to call me that. but i wasn’t very original. it could be a derivative of my own name. (michelle)

  24. Growing up as Mary (named after the virgin) I often asked my parents to change my name…plus everyone seems to have 16 Marys in their lives.

    I became a bit okay with it when my mom gave me a charm that had Mary engraved on it. She had it done on her way home from the dr when she found out she was pregnant with me so I think I was always meant to be Mary. (Still, why couldn’t I have been named after my aunts…Emma or Sophie??)

  25. @Mom 101, it was definitely “Paht,” though my dad would call her “po” on occasion. When my daughter was born, we threatened to refer to her as “Auntie Pope.” Hehe.

  26. I never really thought about it before, but that makes sense. When I was a kid, I told my mom that I was tired of having a boring name and wanted to be called by my middle name (Alynne). My mom was all “um…no. I agonized over that name, child, so you are going to be called Sarah.”

    I thought she was so mean. I never thought about how she might have felt about it.

  27. Julian currently asks us to call him Toby, which is the name of his classmate. This is not even interesting, just another example of how common this is.

    I clicked on this headline on my feedreader thinking I was going to read about last name changes – like maybe you had given the girls Nate’s last name but then decided to change it to yours.

  28. LOL! I so did this to my mother. I wanted to be called Nellie (I had been watching little house on the prairie a wee too much). My Mom also asked my brother what his new name would be, and then she told us that she was to be known as Nancy, and would not listen to any other name, nor could either of us answer to anything but our new chosen name. I think we renamed the dog too.

    Within 1 day, I went back to being Jessica, because my Mom wouldn’t answer to Mom, my brother was so confused he had turned into a wailing puddle on the floor, and “Nancy told my little next door neighbor friend that Jessica didn’t live here anymore.

  29. I told my mom, repeatedly, that I wished my name was Allison, rather than Megan. My poor mother.

    I’m not an Allison. In fact, in grad school, on three separate occasions, I walked into class, the professor scanned the roll sheet, looked at me and said, “You must be Megan.”

    Mother knows best.

  30. I discovered awhile back that my ex-husband had changed his name from James to Vlad. My first impulse was to feel sorry for his mother.

  31. After one too many times a child said to me “that’s our dog’s name” I declared myself Ann (my middle name) for all of first grade instead of Brigid (my first name). My parents and teacher all went along with it. I still have papers that say Ann. I eventually grew out of it, but to this day, almost no one spells it correctly.

  32. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I asked my son what he thought her name should be. “Four. No! Two. NO! Four” is what he responded with. Needless to say, we didn’t name her Four. We decided Alexa was more to our liking.

  33. I cannot believe how increasingly cute the girls are – cuter every picture. Whatever their names are.

  34. Yeah, kids always want to change their names! My older daughter, Kylie, decided to change her name when she was 3, in preschool, and by the time I went to pick her up the teacher was upset because all the kids wanted to change their names, too!

  35. A few months ago, my 4 year old daughter decided she wanted us to call her Kyla Lyla. It lasted about 3 days. Now she insists that’s what she’s going to name her own daughter someday…and daughter #2 is going to be called Lollipop.

    I believe this is what they call asserting independence and being creative 🙂

  36. when my little brother couldn’t say his r’s and started calling me taya i started signing my 2nd grade assignments as such until the nuns (meanies) started refusing to accept anything without my ‘real’ name.

    around the same time i also really, really wanted to name our new puppy Leash-a. (hm, wonder where i got that one?) my parents promised me we could name one of her puppies Leasha, and then promptly had her spayed.

    i was more upset with my parents (when i realized the bad deal) than the nuns …

  37. I remember wishing my name was Nicki or Stacey when I was younger, probably because the girls across the street, at the height of their 80s coolness were named that. Why did I idolize the acid washed jeans and big bangs? Who knows…

    I’m sure when my own Quinn is old enough she’ll hate us for giving her a ‘boy name’, if she asks me to change it to Nicki or Stacey I might cry.

  38. hahahaha I guess it is a right(write?) of passage or something because I was TOTALLY supposed to be an Ocean. That’s right kids, I wanted to be called Ocean wtf? 🙂


  39. David produces a show that was on Broadway over the holidays called “Slava’s Snowshow”. Lucy was so entranced by the show (and probably because of the ridiculous number of times she saw it) that she decided her new name was “Snowy”.

    She stuck with this name for MONTHS. Daffodils were out and she still called herself “Snowy”. She made pre-school evaluators change her name on her badges when she would go to pre-school interviews, she insisted every kid and teacher in her current school call her “Snowy” and she would not allow me to even mention her “former” name and if I did, I would be given the cold treatment and silently admonished.

    Finally, I gave in. I called her “Snowy” everywhere we went. Mothers looked at me as if I were insane for naming her such a thing. I answered weird, prying questions from strangers. But to “Snowy”, I was mother of the year. She beamed.

    Then, without warning, she changed her name to Tinkerbell. And she expected everyone to just come on board.

    There’s no moral to this story, Liz. No bits of wisdom. I’m as perplexed as you. Just – congrats on your new daughters Poppy and Joanna.


  40. Funny. I was born Erin but I went for years (as in, half my life thus far) as Erynn. Not really sure why but I feel it had something to do with 12 year old identity crises and such. When I was pregnant with my son and my husband and I were fighting over what to name him, I decided that I should change it back. If only so that I can say to my kids in the future, see, parents are ALWAYS right.

  41. Ha ha! My oldest once told me that I should have another baby and it should be a boy…and we should name him Moses Jesus. Thank goodness the baby that eventually came along was a girl!

  42. I wanted to be Susie. Or Susy. Or Suzie. Or Suzy.

    I know a really awesome Joanna. I don’t see a comment from her mother yet, but as names go, I think Thalia would be in good company.

    (That said, I love Thalia, and likewise it will kill me when my kids eventually complain about the names we gave them).

  43. I can’t wait until my girls decide they want different names. I wonder what they’ll pick… I remember deciding one day that my name should be Karin (it’s Kari, so I just added an “n”). Not very creative of me, I guess…

  44. I’m 40 years old and I still think about changing my name. Marcus Aurelius Kim has a nice ring, doesn’t it?

  45. I’m so late to this post, but wanted to chime in that when I was pregnant with our first we seriously thought about Sage for a name if it was a girl. First was a boy. I ended up naming my daughter after my grandmother – but I still love the name Sage.

  46. Mine does that to me regularly. I tell her, “you can call yourself whatever you like, but I’m still calling you Miranda.”

  47. I could never buy anything with my name on it as a kid. I’m Alexandra and I totally wanted to change it to something cool like Sophie. Now I’ve gone and done the same to my Son,his name is Leander, which we shorten to Leo. We’ve managed to buy one thing so far with his name on it. Poor kid. He likes ot be called Tornado.

  48. My name IS JoAnna. And I would have loved to have Thalia as a name as a child! I never thought how it may have made my mom feel when I told her that I hated my name as a kid. Now I love it, although I could have done WITHOUT the capital ‘A’ in the middle of it all… so confusing for everyone.

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