When I was in Kindergarten, I was given a fat blue Husky pencil and told to write my name. So I did. I spelled it K-i-m-m-y, exactly the way I’d been taught by my grandfather, the man who also taught me to read by the age of 3. He was a brilliant man, a renaissance man, a physician, circuit golfer and concert pianist. I fugured he knew better than some old teacher how to spell my name…
…Which was Kimmy.
So when I wrote my name as I’d been taught, and the teacher marked it wrong, I had a fit. She wrote my full name at the top of the page: K-i-m-b-e-r-l-y. Well, she was wrong, as far as I was concerned. I wouldn’t write it. I knew my name was Kimmy.
She refused to let me leave the table until I wrote the thing she insisted was my name. The problem, of course, is that no one ever called me by that other, many-lettered moniker, and I had certainly never learned how to write it.
Nowadays, it’s a requirement that kids learn to spell their given names. This is completely understandable, as everyone who receives an education ought to be able to read and sign their own name, even if they remember little else.
My daughter’s teacher pulled me aside and told me she needed to record her full given name at the top of her work. Understandably, my little girl had a fit. She knew her name. I explained to her that Mommy didn’t like writing out her “long” name sometimes, either, but it was nice to have a name I could shorten if I wanted to. Also, I told her how special her name was, and that she could write anything she wanted on the pictures she draws for me.
It took her less than a week to perfect writing her full name, but I love seeing her do it. She’s her Mama’s girl, after all.
I may be Kim these days, or Kimberly, professionally, but to my family I’ll always be Kimmy.