Naming Ayana

We named our girl Ayana
well, her mother did, really
I just nodded and said,
“Yes dear, Ayana’s a perfectly lovely name.”
but we named her Ayana
because we struggled long and hard
to find the perfect name
that no kids would be able to make fun of
because when I was a boy
the other kids laughed and pointed their fingers at me
and said, “Max is mundane. Max is mundane.
How does it feel to be mundane, Max?”
and we didn’t want our beautiful, little girl
to have to put up
with that kind of shit

We named our girl Ayana
but Ayana’s not his name

We named our girl Ayana
because it means beautiful flower in Swahili
at least that’s what we were told
and how could you possibly look
at this precious, little child
and not see the most beautiful flower
she was unbelievable, she was
with a gentle face filled with wisdom and soul
and eyes so clean and pure
they could pierce right down to the bottom of your soul
She was far and away
the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen
in a lifetime of seeing beautiful things
and just looking at her
made me believe in God again
after being an atheist for most of my life

We named our girl Ayana
but Ayana’s not his name

We named our girl Ayana
because we wanted something unique
that could be distinctly hers
I mean, we knew she was going to be amazing
she was going to be special
how could she not be?
So she needed a name
as original as she was going to be
and damn if she didn’t exceed our wildest expectations
of how cool and interesting a person could be
She was unbelievably smart and funny
and interested in weird and wild things
and could talk your ear off
about the music and art and books that caught her fancy
Ayana was perfect
Ayana couldn’t have been better
Ayana was always ready
to teach us something new

We named our girl Ayana
But Ayana’s not his name

We named our girl Ayana
but, you want to know the truth?
Our kids are not possessions
that we can mold and shape and form
into the people we imagine them to be
We get to hand them our DNA
and a little bit of our wisdom
but after that they’re on their own
We don’t get to choose their lovers and friends and teachers
We don’t get to choose their politics and preferences
We don’t get to choose their fantasies and daydreams and nightmares
We don’t get to chose what food they like and what music they listen to
We don’t get to choose their home and we don’t get to choose their religion

We don’t get to choose their gender

and, as much as we might like to
we don’t get to choose
their name

We named our girl Ayana
but Ayana’s not his name

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