Lois Greene Stone, writer and poet, has been syndicated worldwide. Poetry and personal essays have been included in hard & softcover book anthologies. Collections of her personal items/ photos/ memorabilia are in major museums including twelve different divisions of The Smithsonian.
Grandma, I’d Have to Explain I Was a Boy
"I love this book, Grandma!" Kevin closed the cover of Bambi. "Will you read it again?"
I moved Kevin from my lap; he sat on the couch cushion beside me. "Let's talk a little about anything in the book that you might not like if you were Bambi."
"You mean about the hunters and the guns?"
"Not what I mean, but something you'd feel if you were Bambi."
Kevin moved his seven year old legs from the soft cushion and sat down on the floor so he could directly face me. "Well, if I imagined myself to be Bambi there's more I'd like 'cause I like Thumper and all those things.”
"Well, close your eyes. You're Bambi, a big, beautiful, graceful deer."
"I'd want to go to school." Kevin said. "Bambi didn't."
"Okay. You're Bambi. Let's go to school." I smiled.
"There's a problem, Grandma. Bambi sounds like a girl's name."
"Yes it does, Kevin." I was pleased that Kevin realized this.
"I'd be made fun of for having a girl's name." Kevin crossed his legs and leaned his elbows down so far that they almost touched his bent knees.
"Why is that?"
"Oh, the teacher gets messed up when there are kids named Jordan or Taylor or Leslie. And even Chris or Madison or Sydney are boys or girls. Imagine the kids laughing at me if Mom had named me Bambi."
"How would you deal with a name you're uncomfortable having?" I pursued this.
"I don't know. I'd hate to be laughed at. And when I get big, and gym is for just boys or girls, not like we have it now, they'd stick me in the girls' gym class first just because of my name." Kevin squirmed a bit, then continued. "Grandma, I'd always have to explain I was a boy!"
"Do you think Bambi's mother was cruel naming him that?"
"I don't think Bambi's mother thought about people making fun of his name; she probably just liked the sound of it."
"Do you like your Kevin name?"
"Uh huh." Kevin moved his legs to be more comfortable, and put his hands behind him. He looked up. "Grandma, I did laugh when I had to pair-up in a rope climb with Sylvester. I thought about a cartoon cat. That was bad, wasn't it? I must have hurt Sylvester's feelings."
"Like if you were Bambi."
"But I couldn't tell my mother that my Bambi name makes me feel silly, could I? Then I'd hurt her feelings. It is a problem, isn't it."
"Yes, Kevin. Our names become "us", and if we're comfortable with them we act differently with others." I liked this conversation. "You like yours, and it's not ever going to be mistaken for a girl’s, is a popular name, you'll end up in a boys' gym class, and no one will make fun of it, nor will you be mad at your parents for giving you it."
"Maybe Dumbo didn't like the first part of his name saying dumb. Think so, Grandma?" Kevin turned his head to one side waiting for an answer. "I guess I'll never laugh at someone's name and the problems that come from having a strange one."
I opened the thin hardcover book. "Climb up. I'll read it again."
Published summer 2000 by “Mature Years” ©2000 The United Methodist Publishing House