when my baby girl was born, i had some ideas of what to name her, but it wasn't until i saw her little face that i knew for sure: harper.
she was three years old the first time she told me she didn't like her name. she thought she would prefer to be called rainbow sparkle my little pony. i talked her out of that.
for the next 12 years, she would occasionally tell me she didn't like her name, didn't feel like a harper. and every time she misheard her name when someone was saying "parker" or "piper," she would become embarrassed and more annoyed with her name.
she mentioned numerous times that she wanted to change her name.
and this week, she asked that we finally, formally, please call her elizabeth.
to be fair, she is starting a new school where no one knows her. she has two more years at this school to try it out, and the school is full of kids trying on who they think they are, be it a new name, new hair color, or new gender. the teachers and administration and classmates are supportive, open, accepting, and nonjudgmental. it's really the perfect time to give this new name a go and see if it feels more her.
on the day that she asked me if i would please stop calling her harper, i told her that if, over the next two years, she feels more comfortable in the skin of elizabeth than she has as a harper, upon graduation we can do the paperwork to change her middle name to elizabeth, then she can decide whether to tell people she goes by her middle name or reclaim her original name as she moves into the world.
her names were given thoughtfully, with reason. but to her point, we gave them to her. we had to name her before we walked out of the hospital. if she's going to live her life, she wants the choice of what she answers to. i can respect that. i'm a michele; growing up in the 80s, every fifth girl was named michelle ... right after the jennifers, amys, stacys, and heathers. i get it.
her dad is struggling with it. not that he doesn't like the name elizabeth or feels particularly wedded to harper (heck, he wanted to name her sam or julie, so i don't think he really cares either way WHAT her name is), but he is worried she's being influenced by the environment in her school that encourages self-discovery. well, buddy, welcome to Gen Z ... especially Z-ers at an arts high school. they're gonna experiment, and they're gonna find themselves, and by god they are going to be better off than we were in the Knowing Who They Are game.
what i would have given for radical acceptance and freedom and support. i wasn't even allowed to get my ears double pierced until i turned 18. (guess who's making an appointment to get about five new holes in the next week or so? i'm learning so much as a 47-year-old.)
i look at these kids fighting through the generational layers of rules and suppression, and i have to think they are going to save us all. when you aren't dealing with your own shit on a daily basis, you're much more free to love, accept, and change the world.
go forth, elizabeth. change your name, change your game.