Tuesday, November 9, 2010

This Is Our Stop: on belonging

When we take the bus home from preschool, one of the bus stops we pass by is our last name. The feminine form, specifically, minus one diacritic. Used to have a friend who lived there.

We've been by several times, but yesterday as they announced it on the bus, K said, "[Last name]? It's our stop!!" I told her yes, it's ours, but we aren't getting off there. I laughed because I've always felt a certain affinity with it, too.

Compare that to life in any other country: no one can pronounce our name and you would certainly never name a bus stop after us. I spent so long mispronouncing my own last name for the benefit of English ears (i.e. anglicizing it so people would understand) that I accidentally did it a few times here in Prague, too.

People could usually handle K's name because we use two forms of it: we call her the CZ/SK form and we tell English speakers to call her the English form. That's one reason I call her K on this blog, actually, because both forms start with K! And then people end up calling her (Slovak) K anyway, because they hear us doing it.

You never meet another K anywhere else, but here, K is actually something like the 7th most popular name for girls (or was when she was born). We've already met multiple K's in Prague. In our search for a name to fit three languages I guess we forgot to consider she might be one of two or three K's in her kindergarten class. Not a big deal though. The point is all relevant family members can pronounce and spell it. Unlike our last name.

My point? I think it's wonderful to be in a place where people recognize your name. Where instead of, "What was her name again??" they say, "Oh, K, that's my sister's name!" I think it's great for K (and us) to see our last name as the name of a bus stop. It makes it normal. Just another name, and we're just another family.

There are enough things about us that are different; I am happy that I can bring up my daughter in a place where something as simple as her name can be "normal". I want to make this a place where she can feel like she belongs.

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