The first time the Who asked to add my maiden name to his middle name was a couple of years ago.
“Sure,” I told him. “Whenever you’re ready, we will help you do that.” I didn’t know exactly what it would entail, but I knew I was going to wait for him to ask again before looking into it.
The second time he asked was a year and a half later. Whether the time between asks was a function of him not being ready or just absent-mindedness, I don’t know. But this time, he was more insistent. “When are we going to add [the name] to mine?”
“Say the word and we will get the ball rolling.”
And I waited again. Three asks seemed like the right amount. It’s arbitrary, I know. But only a week later, he asked again. So after three unsolicited asks and at 10 years old, we began the process.
Turns out that while changing your name as an adult requires taking out ads in local papers and a court date, changing a minor’s name (at least the middle name) is a piece of cake. They consider it a “correction” to the birth certificate and all it requires is filling out a form, paying $25, and getting it notarized.
So here we are, a mere three months after the final ask, and The Who, formerly a boy with three names is now a boy with four, placing him in a long line of [name]s, reaching all the way back to the shtetl.
There is something about a name that connects him to me the way that even carrying him inside my womb for nine months didn’t do. It’s a lineage. A history. A mark of who he is and where he came from. His full name is now a thread that ties him from my ancestors to me, to her, to her ancestors, wrapping him in all of our stories, from generations past to generations still to come.