I walk past this R every day on my way to the office. Each time, I think of Riley, knowing she would think of her name every time too. I wonder a lot about names when I step over it. Sometimes even with a pause. I think about how much of how we understand who we are is connected to our names. And how, as parents, it’s one of the most important jobs we had, naming this kid, but how it really isn’t because we really all have no idea what we’re doing. We pretty much never have any idea what we’re doing. We had no idea if she would care to see a random R spray painted on a sidewalk. But still. We chose that R.
So, I pause.
I think of how, at four, her name is the first word she learned to write. How she writes it now. Like a real word rather than scratches on a page, requiring a bit of a squint to interpret. I think of how she answers, or purposely doesn’t, when I call her. I think of how her name rides along as a label on her backpack, lunch box, and water bottle. And how I hesitated to write it on her jacket, thinking she’d just grow out of it. And how that jacket is made of magic and still fits, three years in a row.
I think of how proud she is to hear her name called when she raises her hand. She’s always raising her hand.
We chose her name just because we liked it. Nothing more. No pressure. No story. We just liked it. Maybe just like she likes it too. Maybe just like we really like her. She’s making her own story. While I pause at a spray painted letter on the sidewalk.