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What will I tell my sons when they ask how my wife and I named them? Will they ask? My sister was named after a race horse. My father says he named her after a race horse that won on the day or some time during the week of her birth. I was named because he wanted something “different.”

I say that both my wife and I picked the names for our sons, but the truth is I picked them. She just agreed. We had two names that we really liked for our oldest. We went with the one that was softer to the ear and had more meaning in Chinese numerology. We didn’t know at the time that we would be using the name we didn’t choose for his younger brother. A harsher sounding name in English. In Spanish, smoother.

A fun fact about my children’s names: Neither my wife’s or my parents can pronounce the name correctly. The consonant sounds do not exist in either of our parents’ languages.

The boys’ names were easy. My wife and I struggled over what to name a girl. Initially, we thought our second would be a girl. We had a girl’s name picked out for our first just in case, but for one reason or another, we felt it was necessary to revisit girls’ names. I think it was me. I was unhappy was the name we had selected before. But I had no alternatives to choose from. We wrestled with names it seems up to the day our second was born.

Both my sons have Chinese names that they do not know or can write. My grandmother chose my oldest son’s name and my father chose my youngest son’s name. My grandmother had passed away before he was born, so the responsibility fell on my father.

Their Chinese names are simple to remember and to write. That was my one request. My Chinese name is complicated and hard to write. I remember at one point in my life when it seemed like I was going crazy, my grandmother wanted to change one of the characters in my Chinese name because she felt that all of the ornate dashes brought about a “disharmony.” I had refused.

Actually, it sort of made me angry. It was the name she gave me. And even though I could barely write it, I had become very possessive of it. It was after all – My Name! I believed all of the little ornate dashes were strengths and not a weaknesses. I believed they symbolized “versatility” and not “disharmony.”

My sons’ names begin with a solid unbroken character. The second part of the name is not so “unbroken” but the strokes are limited. There aren’t a lot of dashes all around. I believe this will make sons more straightforward and driven than I was, especially in adolescence. Also, their names both bring to mind the sun, which brings to mind new days on spring mornings. Which brings to mind the subtle and unconscious need for hope and new beginnings.

My grandmother passed away shortly before my oldest son’s first birthday. I still do not use my Chinese name for anything. I still cannot write it. However, it is still my name. I hope my sons feel the same about their Chinese names.

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