My son has been in elementary school for less than a full week and the valuable lessons have already started.
On day two, the teacher asked the kids if anyone had a name they preferred to be called besides the one on the roster. My son – named Harper – raised his hand and asked to be called by his middle name – Miles.
This is fine. Shortly after we named him Harper, a Spice Girl had a female baby she named Harper and we realized where we might be headed. It didn’t take long for us to start seeing girls come running when we yelled for Harper on a crowded playground.
I figured a middle name like Miles might come in handy in middle school if teasing becomes too much. But we have never discussed this and – to my knowledge – Harper hasn’t even figured out that a lot of girls share his name yet.
So this maneuver he made last week was simply re-invention. When I asked him later why he requested this shift he said “I just like that name.” Fair enough. I’ve known for awhile this kid has strong opinions and little worry about what others think. This charade didn’t really surprise me.
But it did come as a bit of a surprise to him. He forgot something very important: follow-through.
Once he made the proclamation to be called Miles, the classroom accepted his word and moved on. But Harper forgot.
That is why we had a very puzzled teacher pull us aside the next morning.
“I wanted to respect his wishes and so I called him Miles the rest of the day,” she related. “But he never responded or seemed to hear me when I did.”
It’s a funny anecdote and one that is likely to follow him to his wedding reception and beyond.
But once I clear the tears of laughter out of my eyes from the telling of this tale, I am left with the application this scenario has to my life.
Both personally and professionally, I have taken plenty of stabs at big and bold adaptations. They are scary and difficult and I usually find myself worried about how other people will respond and what those closest to me will think. But when I announce my intentions, those around me tend to be pretty supportive.
What undoes my progress is me.
Too often I make a statement and then forget to answer when I am called to account for my assumed new self.
So take this story as a warning and make sure you are ready to be the person you tell people you are.