Two months ago, I brought home a wonderfully sweet Goldendoodle puppy and named him Charlie. The three questions I am most often asked:
What kind of dog is he? What’s his name? (Followed by)
Why did you name him Charlie?
I had decided on the name Charlie earlier in the week, knowing we were going to meet him that Saturday. I thought about other names, tried saying them softly and calling them loudly. I never wavered. Charlie felt right. I didn’t have any specific connection to the name, no it’s not the name of an old boyfriend, I just liked the way it sounded. I had a few other names suggested to me but nothing came close. I waited until the following day, having said “Charlie” to my new bundle of joy many times in the first 36 hours and watching him respond. It’s a happy name that fits the expert criteria of naming a dog: 2 syllables and ending in an E sound so they can distinguish their name from other commands.
It wasn’t until this week, when I reread my favorite book from childhood, All of a Kind Family by Sydney Taylor, that I realized where my affinity for the name began. This charming story published in 1951 and set in 1912, centers around a Jewish immigrant family living on the lower east side of New York with five daughters. Their family friend, one of only two nonJewish characters in the book is named Charlie. I don’t want to give anything away, because I highly recommend this book, but I now understand why I loved the name from all those years ago.
I was lucky 🍀💚🍀 enough to spend a decade at a great school with fabulous colleagues, the most supportive families, and children that filled my heart every single day.
I’ve been gone for 17 months but whenever I return to Chicago, a priority for me is reconnecting with the children who made getting up at 5:30 worthwhile. I may no longer remember all of their names, but I remember stories about each one – how hard they worked, how genuinely sweet and caring they were, and sometimes how challenging and challenged they were.
Yesterday (in my first 24 hours back in town) I visited school and was made to feel like a celebrity as a chorus of voices called my name. 💕💓 💕
Children who I knew from kindergarten and first grade are now eighth graders and beyond. I met kindergarteners yesterday that are the baby of a family I’ve known since before they were born. The magic of children never fails to impress and inspire me.
And in a perfect twist of fate, yesterday was the Scholastic Book Fair which is also something I treasure. Buying Matt De La Peña’s book and sharing it with the sweetest children in the world is a new memory for me to treasure.
“You know you’ve read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend.”
I’m always happy to read something that opens my world to knowing people I wouldn’t necessarily meet in my own life. Yet I am also equally enchanted by characters who remind me of people I know well. Either way, it’s enriching.
The email I received last week from a publisher that said, I love your manuscript. I’m the mother of two and as soon as I started reading it, I could picture myself reading this to my children.” This is deeply gratifying and also makes me want to create a series of books about Aliana and her family.