Justin and I put a great deal of thought and effort into picking out Robbie’s name. It’s actually something we hammered out pretty early in our relationship. After all, I had to be sure he wasn’t going to throw anything strange at me once I was pregnant. So, for seven years we had known that we would name our son Robert Gaetano Manna. Or Gaetano Robert Manna. The debate continued until the day we found out we were actually having a boy.
Both names are family names. Robert was my maternal grandfather, a man I never met but greatly admire. After all, how many men do you know who could survive in a house with a wife and seven daughters? I actually changed my last name in high school to Dreidame, my mom’s maiden name. Gaetano is Justin’s paternal great-grandfather and the first member of his family to immigrate to the US from Italy. We figured a name with that much history would set Robbie off with a solid foundation.
Except Robbie doesn’t identify himself as Robbie. He is QiQi. Every time. He is never Robbie. Ever. When he sees pictures of himself, he says, “TchiTchi, Mama!” When asked what his name is, he proudly points to his chest when he gets to himself and says one of two things. Sometimes, he points to Justin, myself, and then himself, saying, “Mama, Daddy, baby.” Other times, he is just QiQi. But always with a great deal of pride, as if this moniker has great meaning and history. It does not.
QiQi is his Chinese name, given to him by his daycare provider after knowing him for two weeks. Now, I know a great deal of thought went into giving Robbie this name. But not like Robert Gaetano. I just hope he’s man enough to pull off a name like QiQi. It looks awesome in print, but “Chi Chi” doesn’t sound quite so tough.