Sweaty palms, nervous twitching, and a flushed face squirm in the small wooden desk engraved with years of first-day jitters, I know what is moments away. Poised before an audience of supremely sharpened pencils held in little hands, Mrs. Burns reads through monikers of those that will determine my mood for an entire year.
Amy, Todd, Sam, and Emily all raise their hand. Names that melodically fill the air spoken with enviable confidence absent of the standard pause. Then it happens; the polite yet stern teacher’s eyes land acutely on the line that forever stumps them all. Ruffled brow, squinted eyes, and her glance across the morning faces attempting to utilize the process of elimination validate my concerns. How can this all-knowing human be doubtful of a collection of letters?
Blood rushes to my face as my hand rises gradually, knowing her hesitation is to my credit. I can feel the stares of better-named classmates as the whispers swarm around me like angry hornets. Finally, the torturous recitations of future nicknames cease.
Unable to take one more obliteration, ‘It’s Cherimie,’ I proclaim somewhat aggressively. It was this verbose event that first taught me life might be problematic.
Would my arrival into this world have been any less joyous without such a complex title? Did they assume it would build character each time I faced creative interpretations? Was it not enough to have a face showered in freckles, hair as thick as horsetail, and an inclination for mud puddles?
Every mispronunciation caused a wave of giggles that splashed laboriously against my self-esteem. Cultivating a sense of humor and thick skin was self-preservation; creating an unnoticeable swift kick was a bonus.
Now the sweaty palms and nervous twitching come from my freckled-face little girl. The countdown is winding down to a new school year. Pencils perfectly sharpened, blank notebooks primed for knowledge, and the scent of erasers mixed with glue remind me of those challenging years — it is her turn.
She has her Daddy’s eyes and her Momma’s temperament. She will have challenges all of her own. Unfortunately, I can’t protect her from the obstacles of navigating the world of academics, but I did name her MaryElen, and that is a good start.
Good luck to all the students walking through challenging doors, and God bless the teachers who pronounce their names.
Cherimie Crane Weatherford is the owner/founder of SugarBelle, a long-time real estate broker and a lover of the obscurities of southern culture. To contact her with praise and adoration, email CCWIslandNews@ gmail.com. To complain, call your local representative.