Do you ever think about your name and what it means? I remember that my whole life I have known the meaning of my name. Juanita is the Spanish form of Joan (John for men). It means “God’s gracious gift”. I love that. My daughter wants to change her name and I told her she can’t. She’s 14 and thinks that she needs to have a mind of her own and thus a name of her own. What is it with teenagers?
Each time we named our babies we found a name we liked but we immediately looked up its meaning to make sure it would suit. I don’t understand the parents who come up with these wacky made up names that combine so many vowels and sounds that you couldn’t possibly find a meaning in it. Laqueesha, Tawanda, Quishanda…?? Seriously?
Did you know that the name “Israel” was actually Jacob? Jacob wrestled with an angel(that would have been cool to see) and God re-named him Israel which means “contended with God”. So, here’s Jacob who suddenly becomes Israel and for thousands of years to follow an entire nation is named AFTER him!! What a legacy. Actually the Bible is full of people whose names were changed based on the meaning.
I like my name. It’s poetic and rather romantic I think. The other day a man asked if I was Spanish. I said “no, my parents were hippies.” He looked confused. But let me explain. My parents, in all their wisdom, decided to name us 3 girls after songs. Actually, it’s pretty cool. My oldest sister is Bonnie-Jo. There was apparently a song in the 50’s that went something like this: “Please Mr. DJ, play a song for him; I’d like a dedication from Bonnie-Jo to Jim.” Wanna hear something cool? She married a man named Jim! I love that story. Sadly, we’ve been unable to find the song. It was a folk song and rarely played so tracking down its roots has been difficult.
Then there’s me: I actually have TWO songs. My grandma always used to sing me “Juanita, Juaaaaa-nita…” but I was named after a country song called Juanita Carmela Garcia. I still have not heard it. I am however, extremely thankful that my mother came to her senses and dropped the “Carmela” and instead gave me a second name of Suzanne. Yikes, I would have been wearing a sombrero and colourful skirt my whole life!
My younger sister Amanda, was named after the most popular of all three. Amanda by Don Williams. It is a beautiful song, makes you cry. Whenever my dad sings it the room is silent and we hang on every word.
So, names are pretty important but then there’s…..the nickname. Oh boy. Quite honestly, I have no problem with my nickname. I’ve had it my whole life and it’s just who I am. But some people, who hear it for the first time are a little shocked. You see, when I was born my sister(Bonnie-Jo) could not say my name. So, she would pronounce it Jua-TI-ta. Eventually that was shortened to Juati. What’s interesting is how that stuck and how it BECAME my name. My uncles, aunts, cousins and so many others just called me Juati. What followed was anything that rhymed and well, it didn’t take long and I was Juati Pottie. Now, this may be gross, odd or very tasteless but it stuck and it never bothered me . We moved off the farm into the city in 1980 and I continued to be Juati. All of my school friends, my church friends and my mom’s side of the family followed suit and I was always Juati. Juati Pottie became the endearing form, the “call of the wild” so to speak. Hey, it got my attention. Nothing like having someone in a mall yell out “Juati Pottie!!!”
I got married in 1992, moved away in 1994. Because my husband NEVER called me Juati, moving brought an end to my nickname. Or so I thought. For years, building new friendships and new relationships, growing into a wife and mother, it just never was brought up EXCEPT when we’d go home and see sisters and cousins. But those visits were fewer. Imagine my childrens’ surprise when they were old enough to understand and be at family gatherings where their mother was called Juati or Juati Pottie! Especially during those pottie-training years it was particularly funny.
I now have friends, who I’ve been friends with for more than 10 years who can’t bring themselves to call me Juati. They find it disturbing I think. But actually, I have to say that “Juan” and even “Juani” have come up too. I think my sisters and other family may have felt that Juati was too juvenile and so I became Juan in the late 80’s. That has seemed to be more acceptable. And now I find that as I approach 40…..EEk!!!!! the nickname has been rejuvenated. Friends who have never called me anything but Juanita are now calling me Juan. It’s a funny thing~ the shortened form or the nickname form of any name. Why we feel the need to shorten everything. I do it to my own kids. Leslie is Les, Lyndon is “Bud”, Emily is “Em” and Lauryn is …”Honey” . 🙂
Just call me Juati or Juan. After all, I’m Little JUAN on the Prairie!