With my oldest niece graduating from Kindergarten, it seemed like an appropriate time to saunter down memory lane.
I was so excited to be enrolling in Kindergarten.
The really nice lady down the street, Mrs. Burgess, was going to be my teacher.
She, and my mother, sat across the little-kid sized table from me. The kindergarten room seemed huge with desks everywhere, a piano in the corner, books (gasp!), toys, room for everyone to spread out a rug for a nap, “cubbies” – a word I didn’t quite understand yet, and boys and girls bathrooms!
After talking about all of the exciting things we would do in Kindergarten; colors, numbers, letters, cookies and milk, and play outside every day (!), Mrs. Burgess asked,
“You have a first name and a middle name. What would you like to be known by in school?”
Holy shit – someone, for the first time ever, asked me what I wanted. What would you like to be known by in school????
See, I hate my first and middle names. My first name was my mother’s name – an old-fashioned name that no kid my age would ever be called – even in my tiny, rural town. My middle name was created by taking my father’s name and adding a tiny bit of femininity – literal lipstick on a pig.
I thought for a minute then beamed.
“Julie.” I said proudly.
I was so excited.
Starting school and I can be whatever I want!
My mother and Mrs. Burgess stared at me dumfounded until Mrs. Burgess finally broke the strange silence.
“No sweetheart. You need to pick either your first name or your middle name.”
It was all downhill from there.