Wednesday, October 8, 2008

How Jupiter got her Name

I feel I should explain how Jupiter got to be called Jupiter. At the Playground Village today, the Moms were talking about the trials of baby naming, and fighting with spouses over particular names. One upswing of being a single parent; I didn't have to fight with anybody about my daughter's name. I did go through a lot of names I wanted to use. But when I got the referral photo of a tiny blonde, blue eyed girl in a pink outfit, she of course came with a name already, being a year old. Then I had to go through the process of deciding whether to give her a new name, (which I was already struggling with choosing) or letting her keep the name she was given. I had to decide before I could fill out one of the 150 forms for Sverdlovsk Ministry of Education to complete the dossier. In the end, I decided to keep her Russian name, and to call her by a diminutive of that name which sounded American. We don't use her Russian name on a regular basis, to the point that when the social worker emailed me about the final post placement report, I looked at my inbox and said to myself "Who's Galina?" The baby home staff called her Gala, which meant that during the six months between trip one and trip two, I probably purchased 110 Gala apples. I chose Noelle for her middle name, not because it was a family name or anything, but once I had settled on her first name, Noelle flowed with it. Then, after I had filled out and submitted all the paperwork, I learned that my great aunt, who we have always referred to as Pearle, is actually Lena Pearle. If I had known, I might have chosen Pearle instead of Noelle.

Last year, when school was very tough, my daughter decided she was a boy. When she feels overly anxious, or theatened, she seems to feel safer pretending to be a boy, because of course all boys are tough and strong. She gave herself a new name when she needed to fall onto the safety of being a boy, so she chose "Jupiter. Like the planet." I have no idea why she chose Jupiter. Maybe someday she'll tell me. But everybody (except me, who could never remember) was very good about calling her Jupiter. Her Music Together teacher always sang "Hello, Jupiter, so glad to see you!" Her Music Together teacher's husband actually asked the teacher one day if someone in the class was really named Jupiter after I happened to leave a message on their answering machine. On papers and drawings and shoes, boots, backpacks, etc...we had to write Jupiter.

She is more accepting of being Lena now. She answers to it and is learning to write it at school. (and she wears dresses again!) I stuck with it for the blog because in my job, I'm big on security, so I give us all a fake name for purposes of the blog. And it reminds me of her strong spirit. So, that's how Jupiter got her name.

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