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Given Names

by Edd Vick

At first he was Alexander, named for his maternal grandfather. His hair sprouted red as a sundown sky. Though loving and generous, he was prone to awful tantrums. If he didn't get his way he'd throw himself to the ground and scream as if he didn't need to draw a breath.

In the baby name book I read that 'Alexander' meant 'warrior'. On his fourth birthday I marched him down to the county courthouse and legally changed his name to Felix. That means 'happy'. As we left I could see his hair darkening.

The tantrums disappeared. Felix was a compliant child, joyful, contented, happy.

Too happy.

His teacher was grave, apologetic but determined. She said Felix was a wonderful boy; he cooperated so nicely, but could not concentrate. He disrupted the class by wanting to play all the time. Perhaps I should consider putting my boy in a special class.

This time I spent more time in thought before I took him to the courthouse. My son must be more than smart and attentive, he must be clever. He turned six the day we went downtown. Felix entered, but Quinn, Irish for 'wise counsel', left with me. As we went I saw intelligence dawn in his eyes.

Four more years passed, and Quinn was a model child. He always did his homework immediately, completed his chores, got plenty of sleep, and never asked what was in his Christmas presents.

I missed the happy Felix. I missed the giving Alex. Quinn would always pull away when I wanted to hug him, eager to be thinking, anxious to be doing.

For his tenth birthday I got Quinn a bicycle, a globe, several Hot Wheels, and a new name. I'd studied baby name books, talked with other mothers. visited message boards. In the end I cheated.

Alexander Felix Quinn was loving, happy, and intelligent. Fourth time right, I thought.

And all was right. Many happy days followed. My son aced middle and high school, graduated early from college, and found the perfect job.

Then he met her. Leticia Addie-Marie seemed the perfect fit: full of joy and grace. They married in June. I couldn't have been happier for him, for her, for them.

They named their son 'Tiger'.


Very fun!

Posted by: Kristin | December 1, 2007 2:19 AM

Ah, yes -- every generation must learn for itself....


Posted by: Rachel Heslin | December 1, 2007 8:00 PM

Ah, a rose is a rose by any other name...or is it?

Posted by: Daniel Braum | December 3, 2007 5:10 AM

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