Emily Jade’s not sure if a Millie Valentine by any other name would be as sweet.
My daughter Millie Valentine loves her name. “My name is Millie Bal-entine and I’m three!” she says proudly to anyone who asks while holding up three awkwardly-placed fingers. “… and soon I’m turning four!” she continues, flicking one finger up to equal the age she is turning in 10 month’s time, which is not really ‘soon’ to a human whose patience plays out like this:
Millie: “Mum, can I have ice-cream?”
Me: “After dinner.”
Millie: “Can I have dinner then?”
Me: “No, but you can have breakfast.”
But even though right now she is content with the name I spent months agonising over, I know that one day she will hate it. She will probably be in her teens and won’t exactly appreciate that her middle name signifies the day of love on which she was conceived. By her parents. Gross.
I’m not sure how I will feel when that day comes. Her name was my gift to her in return for her being a gift to me.
I broke down every nickname she could or would be called by mean-spirited school bullies. I tested titles like Doctor and Princess (hello, Mary!) to see if it had enough gravity yet endearing personality and I imagined myself yelling it out the back door at dinner time.
It’s the name test every parent does, yet still sometimes it fails and the child, no matter how much love, thought, or proud family heritage is bestowed to their name, just doesn’t like it.
I say this after reading in The Telegraph that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have all but abandoned calling Shiloh, Shiloh, and are carrying out her wishes to be called John. She was around three when she decided to be John and now at eight it’s what everyone calls her. Well, everyone except the rest of the world — we are like my nanna when my uncle came home from abroad with a new name, refusing to use or acknowledge it.
I couldn’t help but wonder how I would feel if Millie did the same and demanded we use a new name. She is three (“nearly four”) after all, like Shiloh was. The Telegraph spoke with clinical psychologist Linda Blair who advised that the healthiest and most respectful action a parent can take is to follow the Jolie-Pitt’s example and allow their child to explore their own identity at their own pace and on their own terms.
I know I shouldn’t say it, but I think I would still hate it. I would probably go all nanna on her and refuse to use her new name, or at the very least still call her Millie in my mind. Or threaten her with using it if she was naughty.
Or I’d just return the favour and call her the name she recently bestowed on me in the middle of an ‘I-want-ice-cream-for-breakfast’ tantrum:
“You’re a wee-wee, bum-bum, poo-poo head!”
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