AKA Diego

My son has been enjoying the Go, Diego, Go series over the past  couple of months. For the uninitiated, Diego and his sister Alicia are animal scientists who rescue animals. Logan likes playing animal rescue missions and has recruited his sister Paige.  He can often be heard saying, “I’m Diego and she’s Alicia.”

A New Name

Over the last couple of weeks Logan began correcting us when we called him by his given name, telling us, “I’m Diego.” This, even when he was doing things other than playing animal rescue. My wife took this in stride, going along with his desire for us to refer to him as “Diego” and his sister as “Alicia.” I, on the other hand, was typically reluctant; clinging unconsciously to the set of illusions I call reality.

I was happy to go along while a game of pretend was apparent. It was during the remainder of the time that I stubbornly referred to him as “Logan.” This past weekend it occurred to me during one of those times that I was the only person calling him “Logan,” that an examination of my reluctance was in order.

My Problem

The first problem I had with him wanting to be called “Diego” was: would it harm his sense of identity? Would he cease being called “Logan?” What’s wrong with being called “Logan” anyway? That last question clued me into another of my issues. I had my ego wrapped up in the name.

Carrie and I had spent hours deciding on a short list of names for our then unborn boy. The problem wasn’t paring down a long list—it was finding names we both thought suitable. As it turned out, we had not needed to pre-select a name. It was only upon seeing him that we would know what we wanted to call him. “Logan” was the name we both felt fit him. We needed only to prepare our minds with names we liked and that passed the, “How might other children abuse the name?” test. So “Logan” it was, and now it’s “Diego.” I’ve been working on my issues with Diego’s choice by applying two of my guiding principles.

Principle One: Intrinsic Value

The first is respecting intrinsic value. I believe all beings have equal intrinsic value and therefore are due equivalent respect. I am no more or less than a child or any other being. Just as my choice of what names I respond to is mine, my son’s choice is his. Applying this principle, if he wants to be called “Diego,” I must respect that.

Principle Two: Reject Fear

The second principle I’ve applied is reducing fear-based choices. I do this by identifying fear-based thinking, examining the underlying fears, and reframing to eliminate fear as a factor in making choices. I’ve identified the fear-based thinking in this situation. I was afraid of his pretending to be someone else. My underlying fear was that he wouldn’t develop a healthy sense of self and purpose. The reframe I have applied is one I have found is often helpful with fear: fear reframed as experiencing the limits of our ability to control. I trust children to develop themselves under their own direction. And it frightens me, not because I have incomplete trust, but because I know that I have no control over it (being stripped of illusion is scary). I now see my lack of control and I’m okay because I trust the process and know my part is to provide resources for my children to use in their development and to keep my mental baggage out of their way. Carrying out my part is the only way I know of to affect the process and its product for the better.