Eddie and I had a baby girl on the afternoon of December 15, 2009. We named her Ellen, after my grandmother. It is an incredible responsibility to name a child. Huge. We considered everything we could - What would it be if someone shortened it? How could you lengthen it? Would you make fun of that? Does it rhyme with anything cute? Funny? Obnoxious? Dirty? Then no. Had we seen a movie where the villain was named that? Then no. That kid in third grade that stole from me? That name is forever tainted. That name makes me think of big hair - it's out. This name gives me the snobby vibe. Out. Rejected. N. O. Too girlie. Too butch. Too popular. Too weird. Too old. Too 1984. No, no, no.
So, we settled on Ellen. Yes, this honors my grandmother. Was it the only thing left after we were finished rejecting? Maybe.
Ellen is what we call her some of the time. Her nickname is Train.
Some of the paths taken to a nickname are clearly marked and visible. Russell = Russ. Eugene = Gene. Timothy = Timbo. Ellen = Train? Well, that just sort-of happened.
When she was a wee little tot, still brand new, she suffered from a relatively mild case of constipation. Not pretty, no, but we were welcomed to parenthood with that one, so we'll claim it. After a few diaper changes and no poop, I would encourage her on the changing table while trying to entertain myself. I sang. I made up songs for my baby, encouraging songs, to coax the poop out of her while I bicycled her legs in the air. Our favorite was a little ditty to the tune of "Do You Know the Muffin Man?" It goes a little like this:
"Ellen rides the poo poo train
the poo poo train
the poo poo train
Ellen rides the poo poo train
it stops at Station Five."
Ellen rides the poo poo train. Every so often she did. Then she became "Diaper Train," "Stinker Train," "Choo Choo Train," "Ellen Train," and eventually just "Train." There are just so many things you can do with Train. The possibilities are vast and most of them are funny. Just this afternoon Eddie let me know that he was going to pick her up from daycare, referring to it as the Train Station.
In front of friends and strangers I sometimes forget myself and I do call my daughter "Train." It is totally her name.