Regular readers might have noticed something strange…. we’ve changed our daughter’s name to Ameli. There are two things I should explain about this action: It’s taken almost two years to come to the decision, and there are plenty of reasons for it.
One is that I’ve been thinking a lot about security and safety. While I believe the concept of stranger danger is flawed, because statistically your child is in greater danger from someone you know than from a random person on the street, I have had another problem on my heart of late: the internet has changed our definition of ‘knowing someone’.
Let me explain. In 2001 I met a guy. A doctor from Chile. We went on a date, drank red wine, ate a delicious dinner, and went our separate ways for the night. During the course of conversation I had mentioned that I write poetry and had mentioned the name of the site my poetry was posted on. I thought nothing of it, and agreed to see him again the next night.
The next night he was different towards me. More intense. It turned out he had stayed up all night, reading the over 400 poems I’d written in two years â€“ through a marriage break-up, a new relationship, the devastation at the loss of that relationship, and the subsequent pain and passion of that. Basically, it was as if he had read my diary in one night, and had developed this deep and intense insight into ME.
He was ready to get get married. He was in love with my passion. He was in love with me (he said.) I knew one night’s worth of chatter about him. And more importantly, he knew one aspect of my personality, and one element of my history, not all of me. Needless to say, I gave it a few weeks, because he was a nice guy, but the enormity of his feelings was too much for me â€“ I was still in love with my ex anyway.
That’s what I mean by ‘knowing someone’.
I realised recently that based on these pages, someone could walk up to Ameli, call her by name, tell her they knew her or me â€“ and actually think they do â€“ put her at ease by recounting things we’d done recently â€“ things that to her mind, only a friend might know.
It’s paranoid. It’s not in my nature to think this way. But there it is.
In addition to this, we tried out a nursery last week, and I was surprised to find a computer desk and laptop for the kids â€“ the two year olds. I realised again how different the world of my children is to mine. I googled her name and had pages of information on her. From her birth, with more than 5 million youtube views, through to everything I’ve ever mentioned here. If the worst threat comes at her from a kid in her class, then thank God for that, but even so â€“ it takes just one child to find out something ‘tease-worthy’ to colour and change an entire era in her life.
No. It’s weird for me, using a different name, and it will be weird for those who know us too, but I take solace in the fact that my indecision on it has been bothering me for two years, and I have peace in the finality of this decision.
I hope you understand.