What would you do? At the end of sixth grade, when we’d been living in (freaky, hippy) Boulder for just a year, Harrison came home and announced he was changing his name. This of course is not unusual. I remember desperately wanting to have something unusual about me at the same age. Could I please have been adopted? (Nope) Could I change my name to my middle name? (I didn’t have a middle name at that age, so with my mother, we worked out a compromise and gave me a middle name, Isobel, which is shared by one of my great-grandmothers). I even tried to use Isobel as my first name for a while, liking the novelty. But that wore off, and I returned to my usual old name, Jo.
So when Harry came home announcing his change of name, I played along happily. I really liked his desired name of Forest and it was likely to last for the summer, at most. I thought.
Jed thought we could show him Forrest Gump and Harry would change his mind about having the same name (spelled differently, though it was). Together we all watched the movie. At the end Harry said that we were crazy if we thought the film would stop him wanting to be called Forest. To him, Forest was undeniably the most authentic, admirable guy in the entire film. Even when he was pushed aside, looked over and treated like dirt Forrest Gump just kept going, and ended the movie being the winner he always was, fulfilled in heart and soul with the blessing of his own son, which is all he really needed in life.
That all was nearly four years ago, and Harry is known to all as Forest. His teachers call him Forest. Some people don’t even know his actual name is Harrison. That’s huge. In fact, this last week he received his certificate of completion for his summer programming camp, and the name Harrison White on it looked strange to me. Almost like it’s not even him.
However, I remain the only person in our family to call him Forest. He suffers everyone else calling him Harry, and doesn’t bristle at all when it happens, but I know he prefers to be called Forest and darn it, I’ll happily call him what he prefers to be called. Even if he doesn’t follow through with the “clean your room!” that comes frequently next to my stating of his name.
Maybe we should add Forest as his middle name, and then he can use it as a first name. Jed says it’s his nickname, not a real name. (Note: Jed chose Harrison as his first name, so there’s that.) Changing it formally makes it permanent, clearly, but it’s not likely he’s going to change back. Should we wait until he’s 18? 21? Do it now? Not at all?