When I was five, in kindergarten, there was another Cindy. To tell us apart, the teacher decreed that I be called by my full name, Cynthia, which I was not accustomed to. Didn’t sound like me. Especially because my twin brother was Bobby. Robert to be fair, but Bobby to us. Just like Cindy and Bobby on the Brady Bunch, a show I loved at the time. This happened on the first day.
I was LIVID! I can’t even recall what this little girl looked like because I hated her so much for this. I remember it as hate, but now I see that it was anger directed at her being named Cindy not Cynthia like me because I had planned on introducing myself with my brother as Cindy and Bobby like the Brady’s. From the Brady Bunch. I had carefully planned this for a while, felt comforted by it because we had just moved to Rockland county, way across the Hudson River, and I hadn’t gone to pre school with these kids. We were a mystery only made cooler for the fact that we had the same names as celebrities.
I remember going up to my teacher and asking why that girl could be Cindy and not Cynthia. Her response was “Her full name is Cindy”. Nothing I could do, so I went about my business, coloring, playing house (reminiscent of an episode of Mad Men, I always wanted the brief case, never got it, don’t get me started on that) and doing crafts for which I could rarely complete because I was left handed and there was only one pair of left handed scissors (probably hoarded by Cindy).
A year went by. Same kids in the same class including faceless Cindy. We learned how to read and write. Eventually, I could read the special accomplishments board. One day, my nemesis had done a particularly good job at something and was up on the board as “Cyndi”. With a Y! I got so angry! I knew how to write my full name even in kindergarten! It didn’t add up. Why use a “Y” if her full name wasn’t Cynthia like mine?
I felt robbed, disrespected, and still couldn’t get my hands on that one pair of left handed scissors! I asked my teacher if I could now be called Cindy, but no. The precedent was set. In order to deal with this, I decided that in play, even out on an errand, my brother and I would be called Susan and Brian.
Bobby didn’t like this, but I not so secretly hated him anyway for being called by a name he recognized, and insisted, lest he have no late night (6 or 7pm) playmate, ever again, he reluctantly agreed and I introduced us as Susan and Brian to any stranger I came across. In the grocery store at the checkout line, at the bank, anywhere. Eventually, “Cyndy” disappeared from my memory. Don’t know if she moved, died, honestly don’t care.
In third grade, I was given the okay to be called by my name, Cindy. A little late to be honest, I was pretty into Susan and Brian and Bobby had grown used to it. The point is, I’d like to think I found a voice early on.
Whether it was listened to or not, I still had it and at least my brother heard it. Reluctantly but he did. So did the strangers I introduced us to. That was my cause, or distraction, for three years.
We all need to be heard, to be validated. And we all remember the first time. I’d love to know yours, better yet, post.
3 thoughts on “The importance of being heard”
Love the pictures, also!! My twin and I were Lea and Leonard and we would bristle when people would try to spell her name with and “h”, Leah. Luckily there were no other Leas, so it was not a problem to just correct people. She was definitely a Lea, not a Leah!! Great story! Glad you found a way to be heard.
The “us” of the past often lies to the “us” of the future; it’s just too bad we have to wait for the future to find out.
Loved the story and the pictures!