Apparently my name is hard to say. Over the years it’s been mispronounced or misunderstood quite a few times. (Somehow on more than one occasion, the person on the other end of the phone has thought I was saying “Pat.” How you get Pat from Tara, I got no idea, but there it is.)
Perhaps the most distinctive memory I have of my name being mispronounced was when I was in the sixth grade. There were a handful of us who went to a different class during fourth period, but when our teacher was out, we went back to the other classroom because they didn’t get a substitute teacher. On this particular day, the teacher who wasn’t crazy about our presence in her classroom decided to make it a point to explain why my name should be pronounced TAR (rhymes with car) UH. (“The R-uh controls the A. Always.”)
Ummmm, not how I was raised, but whatever. I wasn’t one to rock the boat at all, but I remember my good friend, tired of the whole thing, saying, “Mrs. M, Tara could write XYZ up on that board and tell us that’s her name and it’s pronounced Ta-ruh, and we’d have to say it that way. Because it’s her name.”
I don’t remember the outcome of the day, probably because I was mortified, but I do remember feeling relieved that the day was over and thankful to my friend for speaking up on my behalf.
Cooter seems to struggle with the pronunciation himself, as he is stuck on a short “e” sound instead of short “a.” But whatever, he gets the Mama part right, so it’s never really been an issue.
Or so I thought. He informed me Monday that “since your name is too hard to say correctly, I’m going to call you Timothy.”
And so he did.
“Timothy, is this the right answer on this math problem?”
“Timothy, it’s not funny.” (Because I was laughing and soon he was too.) “Everything okay in there, Timothy?”
“I’m ready for lunch, Timothy.”
I think the real clincher was on Tuesday when, after we went to vote, he was telling his sister “NO” to all of the candidates she could think of to list. “What? Do you want President Obama to stay President another four years?”
“No, I don’t.” He turned to me. “Timothy, the one thing I’ve learned in my life about politics is you can’t trust any of them.”
I suppose it will sound strange if we go out in public, and he calls for “Timothy” and I answer. The thing is we have a lot of pet names in this family, and I kind of love that this is one he picked out all by himself for me. He smiles when he says it–oh that smile–and he never says it in anger.
So yeah, I’m okay with that.
Besides, I remember my Mama’s answer when someone asked about what her grandchildren called her–her grandmother name. When they asked, she looked real thoughtful, smiled really big, and said, “You know, I really don’t care what they call me–as long as they call me.”
And so with that, I’ll be Timothy as long as Cooter wants me to be.
It’s growing on me. Just like he did about nine years ago. Right there in my heart.
Love to all.