"What's your name again?" little Burmese Esther tips her pixie-like face to one side and sweetly smiles. When I tell her that it's Connie, she asks, "Can I call you Miss Connie?" I say that would be fine, if she wants to. She seems to think about it critically for about five seconds, and then she tests her boundaries: "Can I call you Miss C.?" I giggle a little because I don't think I've ever been called that... though some of my ESL students probably would find that less challenging than Miss Chandler. Sure, why not - Miss C. I will be! Esther broke in the new name over the next two hours, asking me a hundred questions, as eight-year-old pixies tend to do. "Miss C., what is he doing?" "Miss C., can I try that?" Miss C. started to sound more like Missy the more comfortable she got with it, and that too was ok with me.
Later I am in my room and I hear Lian teaching English words to Jo-Lien. "Tank yoo." "You welcome." "Goo' job!" "OK!" I am so impressed by her initiative and his parroting skills that I have to go join them. After a few more words, Lian asks me if she could teach Jo-Lien to call me Auntie Kah-Ni (the way they pronounce my name). Oh, I just love that! She can tell I'm pleased with the choice, so she's started calling me Auntie Kah-Ni whenever Jo-Lien is around. I think he's starting to make the connection, and one of these days I hope I get to hear him say it!
I love my new nicknames. They make me feel like I belong, that I am part of their family.