Friday, October 14, 2011

I Gave Our Kids Indian Names

Once upon a time, I was frustrated with our older son's attitude, so I started calling him Little Black Cloud. It sounded like an American Indian name, so I decided to give all four of them Native names. I dubbed them Runs Like The Wind (she was being wildly successful in track that year), Little Black Cloud, Golden Laughing Child, and Little Shining Star.  Later, I felt bad because Little Black Cloud's name was negative and bestowed in frustration, but when I suggested changing it, he protested. He liked it. :)   After a few years, I think his feelings changed on that point, so I renamed him. He had since grown enormously and I had found myself calling him The Tall One, so that became his new name. :)  I love how big and broad-shouldered he has become, this boy of ours, and his nickname reflects my delight and admiration.

When I've told this story to people, some seem to think it odd. I don't know why. Maybe they think I'm mocking Indian names, but I'm not. I really like the meaning of names, and like how some Native names reflect something important about the person.  I have many nicknames for our kids, almost all terms of endearment. In fact, I think that Little Black Cloud was the only exception to that. Our kids have grown up accustomed to me calling them by whatever name suits my mood at the moment, from cozy and affectionate to whimsical and silly.

Our family was a family of nicknames when I was growing up. We three girls each had a special nickname.  Oh yeah! My dad gave me an Indian name. A couple of years ago I told him how I like to make people's day a little better, just by being positive and friendly. I told him how I've noticed that if you smile and say "Hello" to someone, they almost always smile and say hello back, even if they looked really down or grumpy before. When I have succeeded in getting a smile from someone who looked like they were under a black cloud, I feel I've helped them feel better- kind of like tricking them into have a better day for just those few moments, because smiling just makes you feel good. Dad laughed and said he was going to call me Itsiyiyi (Little Coyote), after Coyote the Trickster, since I trick people into having a better day. :)

To me, loving fun nicknames make people feel good, like they're part of a special little club of people who love them. :)

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