It was just days, I think, before Ephraim was born, that I was talking with a friend about his name; she, full of concern, confided in me that she hoped I had some sort of nickname in mind for him, because it was a very grown-up name for a little boy.
I was perplexed then by this, and it still perplexes me now. It was an interesting step into the judgement and self-doubt of parenthood, for sure. His name was too grown-up? He was going to grow up some day. We had named him for then, not for this fleeting season called childhood. We knew he would need to grow into it, but we also knew that he would. I’m not sure what the alternative would be–giving him a child-appropriate name for his life? Surely that would be worse than the inverse?
As it was, we did have a nickname in mind and we did use it for him, interchangeably with his real name, for the first couple of years of his life. We stopped for no particular reason other than I just really liked his real name better–I don’t think he has ever suffered for the change.
Last month I took the boys, by myself, to a Sacred Harp singing down in The City (that’s what we call it in our house; that cluster of gleaming buildings to the south of us.) I was daunted before we even went. I had avoided singings since Ephraim was born, simply because I had no idea what to do with a child during them. It is a very communal event–there is no childcare. Everyone participates. I couldn’t wrap my head around what taking the kids would look like.