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October 8, 2009

This Wonderful Life: A Posey by any other name...

A few weeks ago, Posey gave us all new names. Or, to be more accurate, Posey gave us all one new name. Rose.

``My name is Rose, and your name is Rose, also,’’ she said, with the Rs in Rose sounding characteristically like a W, as in Wow or Winning or Willa. I was putting her to bed, and she was (also characteristically) dragging out the whole affair as long as she possibly could.

``My name is Rose, and your name is Rose. And Daddy’s name is Rose. And my sister and my brother are Rose also,’’ she explained.

``Mmm-hmmm,’’ I said, trying to provide neither encouragement nor resistance to her conversation, torn between my desire for her to go to sleep already, and my fascination with her (once again, characteristically) rampant imagination.

Now, I have no earthly idea where she got the idea of giving pseudonyms to her family members, but there we were with all new, botanical monikers: Rose and Rose and their lovely children, Rose, Rose and Rose.

It seems a universal girlthing to want to change your name at some point in childhood.

I personally spent five years between the ages of 5 and 10 wanting to try out new names. My mother often told me that she had given me the name Elizabeth for several reasons — among them that Elizabeth was her middle name and the name of the saint whose name my grandmother took at her confirmation. More importantly, it came with a wealth of nickname possibilities — Liza, Lizzie, Beth, Betsy, Libby and so on. She called me Lise — pronounced Lisa. As an elementary school student in the 1970s, that meant that I was one of half a dozen or so ``Lisas’’ in every grade. I hated that.

I begged my mother to find me an attorney so I could legally become Farrah or Kiki or Toni. Sure, there were other (famous) people with those names, but there was not one single Farrah at my elementary school.

One day in second grade, I took it upon myself to change my name, and started signing my papers ``Pinky Tuscadero.’’ Mrs. Mc- Nair called my parents at home to express concern. I’m sure I’m not the only girl who has done something similar. The notion of changing your name is like a grand game of dress-up. I knew what it was like to be Lisa, and I could only imagine the possibilities of what would happen if I took my Lisa-ness and overlayed something else.

Toni would add a sassy tomboyish strength. Farrah would add a mysterious allure. Kiki was fresh and fearless.

And now I have my own daughters. Bee has never brought up the idea of changing her name. Perhaps it hasn’t yet occurred to her, or perhaps she is just practical. Perhaps she feels perfectly at home in her name.

For Posey’s part, she seems deeply comfortable with her name. Yet she also possesses a ferocious imagination, which means that she can see clearly the possibility of adding something else, trying on new personalities and being someone completely new.

The essence of Posey is funny and strong and fearless. I can see why she might want to add a dash of Rose with all its whimsy and lace and antique silver teapots.

As a matter of fact, I don’t mind getting a little bit of that myself. Elizabeth Trever Buchinger goes by her full name. You can connect with her at www.moremindfulfamily.