I drove my little self over to the neighborhood elementary school today and wrote Drew’s name down on a sheet of paper. The paper said, “I want my boy to be in Kindergarten here,” but with a lot more words, and then with the Spanish translation of the words. I wrote his name down approximately three times, far fewer times than when you make a will or purchase real estate. I also produced proof that Drew is a little boy and not an alien life form, that he is American, that we live and pay money for water close-by, and that he has been immunized against antique diseases. It was a lot of work leading up to that rather underwhelming 10 minutes. Gordy had to open our safe to get the DOCUMENTS and I made a special trip to Doctor Worsley’s office for the RECORDS. And even before that, I potty trained Drew, taught him how to walk, fed him with a spoon, showed him how to latch on, and gestated him for what felt like twelve years of moonless night. All this so that one day I could walk into an empty elementary school library and hand a piece of paper to a lady.
I was not sure how the whole process would go or how crowded it would be. I felt almost like a pupil myself on her first day of school, or maybe a bride about to commit for good or ill. I also thought I might run into people I know or maybe encounter one of the Kindergarten teachers or even Johnny Depp, so I made an effort to look fantastic. No biggie.
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On the sheets I was filling out there was no place to indicate a child’s nickname. This bothered me. Drew’s name is “Andrew” but we call him “Drew.” Every preschool application up to this point has asked what the child would prefer to be called (not that we spend our leisure time filling out preschool applications), except for the Fort Worth ISD. I made a little comment to the registrar about it, and then something came out of my mouth that I am embarrassed about.
“He goes by ‘Drew’,” I said. “But it doesn’t matter.”
Since when did Drew’s name not matter? Since the state asked for a proper, black- and-white first and last name and nothing more? Since he is now in school? Since he apparently belongs to the district? It was a slip of my tongue, but it betrayed my deep-seated sense that older, wiser, more official professionals are better equipped to raise my child than I am. I have always feared this, ever since that nurse let me leave the hospital holding an organism that had been living off my circulation system a mere 48 hours earlier. And when you really think about it, I mean seriously, it’s like, OF COURSE a child should be called what is on his birth certificate! Why pick that name if it will not be serving as an actual moniker? What have I been THINKING all this time? Such a deluded little nursery world I have lived in. It totally makes sense that in Kindergarten, nicknames are for lesser species. I totally, completely get that now. “Andrew” it is, forever and ever, amen.
See what just happened there?
My insecurity is thicker than cold Velveeta cheese. Even my metaphors are off.
One thing I know for sure: if I have to give up “Thing One,” “Pumpkin Head,” “Drewloo” or “Puppy,” then we’re moving east to homeschool with the Amish. Those people get goofy, and they certainly they must come up with perfectly acceptable abbreviations for names like “Abraham” and “Elijah” and “Jephthah.” Right?
I bet the Amish don’t even HAVE birth certificates or fill-in-the-blank name boxes on forms. Thing is, they probably don’t like to look fabulous signing their children up for school, and that — well, I just can’t abide by THAT.
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