We picked out her name many years before she was born. During the first phone conversation I had with my (now) husband in college I tried to stump him by quizzing him about things on the world map by my bed that I was sure nobody could just know. He knew everything I could throw at him, and my last ditch attempt was to ask him the capital of Yemen. “North Yemen or South Yemen?” he wanted to know. I hadn’t even noticed Yemen was divided, but I picked south because it sounded more obscure. The answer was “Aden.” At some point ‘Aden’ became the placeholder name for the imaginary child we might someday have, so when she finally came along she couldn’t be anything but ‘Aden.’ Anyone who has been within earshot of any playground in recent years knows, however, that the name Aden/Aiden/Aidan/etc. is about as popular as it gets right now, which seems deeply unfair to us having picked it out at a time when it didn’t crop up anywhere, but our daughter has been the only girl we’ve run into with that name. In school she is commonly referred to as Girl Aden.
Aden is both serious and silly, She has an excellent vocabulary and a scientific mind. She negotiates everything (which is sometimes maddening), constantly looking for loopholes, and it’s easy to imagine her as a lawyer one day. Although if you ask her she’ll currently tell you she wants to be an astronaut, a scientist, an animal rescuer, and a Pokemon expert. She’s also very artistic and has recently started the violin which she has lovely instincts for. I knew if any of my children played the violin people would assume I made them do it, and if I’ve learned anything from all my years of teaching private lessons it’s that it has to be the child’s idea for it to be a positive experience. I let Aden beg me for a violin for a year before I finally said, “Well, okay, if you MUST play violin….” I found her a wonderful teacher (I decided not to teach her myself because there is only so much the mother-daughter bond can take) and it’s one of the greatest joys of my life to hear her play the violin. I promised her when she’s ready for a full size instrument I’d build her something special. (Being currently obsessed with narwhals, she has visions of something with a narwhal for a scroll. I’m not sure if that’s something I can sell if she ever tires of it, but it would certainly inspire some interesting coversations at the Violin Society of America conventions.)
She’s going into second grade this fall and she’s convinced it’s going to be overwhelmingly hard compared to first grade. I’m not sure where she gets that impression since she’s in a mixed aged Montessori classroom and can see that the second graders aren’t doing anything impossible, and the teacher who indulged her drawing narwhals on all of her assignments is the same one who I’m sure will let her draw narwhals on everything this year as well.
Aden is the person I am most worried about during the upcoming deployment (husband at war aside, of course). I know last time she picked up on my own anxiety and frustration and sadness and reflected it back at me. I am resolved to try harder this time to have a better outlook and thereby take some of the stress off my daughter. Aden can be incredibly strong but I hope not to lean on her too much. I’m glad we will have each other as we await her dad’s safe return.