From an early age, I had always loved my long name. I would roll the letters off my tongue, slowly, and then quickly, feeling all of the letters as they slipped and slid through my mouth. Katherine Renee DeFrancesco. Katherine Renee DeFrancesco, I would repeat to myself over and over again.
When I was younger and in preschool, I did not know to spell my name, and at the top of every preschool project I have saved, there are only two letters, the letters “Ka”. While my teachers and parents thought it was cute that I could only write two letters, all I wanted was to be able to spell my full name. I not only wanted to hear my name called by others, I wanted to see my name bright and bold, written at the top of every paper, announcing to everyone that I owned it. I wanted to be able to feel the flow of my pencil as I glided it across the paper, watching the letters of my name pop onto the page with ease. I wanted to feel the warm glow of pride when I brought home a piece of artwork or a spelling assignment with my name on it.
Although I appreciate the length of my name, a lot of other people do not. They ask me why I prefer the longer version of my name when there are so many different nicknames for Katherine. They feel that it would be easier to pronounce Katie, Kathy, Kate, Kit, or Kat, and in short, it would be easier for them. Any one of these nicknames is not the name my parents intended for me to be called. My name is special to me, Katherine is what I have been called my entire life, and changing it would not only change its sound, it would change the meaning.
My first name is my mother’s middle name. My last name is the name of my ancestors. Perfectly sculpted and built like an ancient city, my name is a work of art. The vowels are connected seamlessly, and the syllables fit together like puzzle pieces. Throughout my lifetime, many different people have told me that it is too hard to pronounce or spell. Some try to shorten it, while others do not even attempt to say it correctly. I, on the other hand, admire the uniqueness of my name. It is a part of my heritage, and a part of myself that I never want to lose.
My long name tells a story to anyone who reads it, and this is the reason I love it so much. Names are so important because they allow a single individual to stand out from a crowd of people, and they can represent the distinctive qualities that each person possesses and displays to others. Most of all, my name, Katherine Renee DeFrancesco, is what makes me, truly myself, and no one else has a name exactly like mine.
I will never know what it is like to feel taller. I blame this on my mother’s side of the family; it’s a gene that unfortunately I inherited.
My aunts were smart enough to marry tall, so that their children would be able to live at a normal distance from the ground. Unlike my aunts, my mother married an averaged sized man, and I took after her, turning out a bit shorter than average too. I was the firstborn of all of my cousins, and many of them are taller than me now, so I am forced to endure back-to-back comparisons with them seasonally, and none of them ever let me forget that I am almost sixteen and shorter than a twelve year old.
Throughout my entire life I have been subject to comparisons like with my cousins. I have been picked on and taunted for my height for as long as I can remember. In every one of my class pictures, I am always front and center, so I do not get covered up my all of the taller kids. On occasion I have to have my clothing taken in to be shortened for my little arms and legs. My legs have to move at a faster pace than everyone else so I do not fall behind the taller people with longer strides.
My height is often the first feature that people notice about me, and many let me know on a regular basis. They stand there looking down on me, and they laugh and laugh when I get annoyed at their remarks. Even those who I have been around for awhile feel that it is necessary to comment on me being short although I have no control over the way that I look.
In society today, certain looks are deemed normal for a person to have. I do not pay attention to the comments on my height as much as I used to, and it does not bother me so much anymore. But should a young girl be subject to these sort of remarks at a such an early age? Why should such a little girl be forced to be self conscious of her looks?
I remember one time when I was in elementary school, and some of my classmates were making fun of my height. They told me that I was short enough to be in preschool, and that I looked like a preschooler too. One said I had smaller feet than his little brother, and he was only four years old.
I stood there with my little feet and my little legs that lacked the length that they all seemed to admire so much. My face, turning more red by the second, felt hotter than than when I had a burning fever a few months ago. I stood up, up, up, right onto the edge of my tippy toes, so that I could be at their level. I looked them all in the eyes and said, “Well, I might be small and look young for my age, but I sure do not act like it. Maybe I stopped growing because I matured sooner than all of you, and my body already thought I was an adult!”
Every challenge has a bright side to it, as does my height. I have learned to steer clear of those who feel that it is alright to make me feel guilty for my appearance that I have no control over at all. I have learned to be tougher, and ignore those that are bothering me.
Although I may not appreciate my height now, it is a quality that makes me stand out from others. It is a part of my family, a part of my heritage, and a gene that my children will most likely inherit as well. It is a part of my personality too, and always will be, and I should never wish to look like someone other than myself.
Holly Jolly Stage Fright
Nobody knows how hard it truly is to be seven years old. I’m stuck at a middle age, not a big kid yet, but not a little one either, but adults treat me like one. They talk to me in their high pitched little kid voices, a voice like a lollipop too sweet to stomach. And when they are done talking to me, they turn to their grown up friends, and their voices switch to a tone only used with other adults, low and serious.
All I wanted today was to prove to them that I could be like a big kid, and they could treat me more like one on a regular basis. I’m getting older, I will be double-digits in a few years, and it's not fair that they continue to treat me like this. I deserve some respect. But, that’s not how today went. No, today did not go at all according to plan.
My parents were in the middle of the audience, staring up at the stage with eager eyes, and a great big video camera pointed dead center. Of course, they could not see me yet, I was backstage replaying my lines over and over and over again in my head, so that I would not forget, while Mrs. Peter was busy introducing the rest of my first grade class.
I knew I was going to perform well. I had been practicing for weeks for my important role in the annual Christmas Nativity, the role of narrator number three. All of my classmates waited anxiously on the sides, waiting for Mrs. Peter to finish her never ending talk. I nervously fidgeted with my costume trying to make the handmade outfit fit better, or at least feel less itchy.
Suddenly, those big, red, velvety curtains rose up from the ground and climbed into the rafters above. The play had begun. After what seemed like hours of relentless waiting, my scene came up, and I tentatively walked on stage.
“And so, when baby Jesus was born, he was placed in a manger, for there was no where else for him to sleep in the barn” spoke the narrator before me.
I opened my mouth, but no words came out. I began to sweat and my costume became itchier than ever. The bright lights of the stage blared down on me, making me feel even more dizzy and disoriented, the feeling you get after staying on the merry-go-round too long at recess. My mouth was a desert, dry and hot, and I tried to speak again.
I blurted out, “Then a bright star rose in the sky to guide, to guide… the travelers, to his manager,” all at once, with many stutters and pauses, like a broken record.
At the end of the play, I sped from the stage, so that I could leap right into my parents arms and no one would see my tears as they started to roll down my face. As soon as I saw my parents, they started to congratulate me on what a good job I had done, and handed me a bouquet of good-smelling, red roses.
I started to realize, that maybe the audience was not aware that I had forgotten my line, and that my parents were proud of me after all. My insides started to glow with pride, eating away the disappointment I had before. I felt warm, warm and happy like a satisfying meal nesting in my belly. Maybe seven is the hardest year. Maybe eight or nine or ten will be harder. Maybe tonight had not gone exactly according to plan, but it turned out alright. At this moment, I know that no matter how hard my life might feel, I’ll be alright in the end, as long as I have people to love and support me.