It is Friday, finally, and I am picking up Giancarlo from pre-school. I hear my son talking before I actually see him.
“That’s not my name. It’s Giannn-CAR-looooo.”
He speaks slowly and loudly so that the mother of his pre-school playmate can understand him. He is looking at her, waiting for a response, but she says nothing. I know what Giancarlo will say next and, because I am on the opposite side of the room, there is nothing I can do to stop it.
“Say it, please. Say my name. You can do it. It’s Giancarlo.”
The Mom does as she is asked and Giancarlo turns to me and says, “Mama! Did you hear? She finally said my name right.”
Long before I ever had kids, I knew that I wanted them to have Italian names. And while Giancarlo’s name maybe the equivalent to Bob Smith in the Italy, it is still different from the norm here. At age three, Giancarlo has been referred to in a variety of different ways, including Jean Carlo (in French), Juan Carlos (in Spanish), John, GC, and Carlo.
Dear Abbey advises her readers to try not to be embarrassed when people mispronounce your name. She recommends simply correcting them and moving on, knowing they probably won't make the same mistake twice. Since Giancarlo has been old enough to talk, he has been correcting people, loudly…even when I don’t.
After a lifetime of facing this issue myself, and ultimately resorting to “just call me Fran,” maybe there is something to be learned from my son.