I was at a class of sorts last night with Philippe, and at the end, the teacher asked if he would like to be called Philippe or Philip. He replied with a big smile, "Whatever you like!" She kept pushing it, and then I asked him "If you could choose, which would you rather?" He still insisted that anyone could call him whatever they liked. I got a little irritated. Not at him, but at the question he was asked. She didn't ask if he would rather his nickname "Pipo", or Philippe... she asked if he would rather Philip... which is not his name. I finally said that, to both of them. I assured him he was being very polite to let her make the choice, but that his name was NOT Philip. I think I got the point across to her.
On the way home, I talked with Philippe about it. I asked him if he knew why I told that lady to call him Philippe. He didn't know. I said "Philippe is the name your mom in Haiti gave you, and it's a beautiful name. I love your name, and I am happy your mom named you Philippe, because now I get to be your mom and have a really cool son named Philippe. You are not Philip. We call you Pipo because that is a cool nickname that also came from Haiti. He smiled at all this and said simply "okay."
But I have been thinking about it all day. I know how hard it has been for him to fit himself into this new life, and I know how hard he must try to 'fit in' all the time. I also know that he will have a lifetime of this, as much as I would like to avoid it. I am happy to see him adapt to American ways, and laugh at what a little American boy he has become. But he will always be Haitian too, and I don't want him to forget that, I want him to be proud of it. It made me angry that this woman would even suggest we call him by an americanized version of his name. It makes me angry to think there will be people throughout his lifetime that will make him want to conform to their standards.
In his 10 years he has been through adjustments many will never go through in a lifetime. But it doesn't change who he is. He is my strong, proud, beautiful son. Another mother, 10 years ago, brought this strong, proud, beautiful boy into the world, and named him Philippe. And I will make sure he remembers that. It will never be "just a name" to me, and I hope he learns that as well. Don't call him Philip... I don't know who Philip is.