A kid named Pickle Cheese (aka The Art of Reinvention)

My daughter started kindergarten this year, and while there are many things that have been fun, like picking out the exact right matching backpack/water bottle/combo, finding the perfect pair of bright pink patent leather platform Mary Janes (oh, how I wish I could find a pair in my size!), and deciding between the two-toned sequin shirt with a sea turtle on it or the Baby Yoda dress, the questions and tales that come from her day are by far my favorite. 

One day she pointed to an emoji sticker I had leftover from a facilitation and said “That looks just like my classmate!” This particular emoji happened to have all silver teeth. A bit taken aback, I thought perhaps she meant her friend had braces, so I asked about that and she was adamant that it looked just like the emoji sticker. Not gonna lie, I was starting to wonder whether or not this kid had a grill already. I later found out she meant that her fellow classmate had metal fillings when she clarified that “Dad has teeth just like the emoji sticker, too!” 

Another day it was the glories of figuring out the lunch line in the cafeteria and the awe of being able to pick out her own food. I’m currently putting a lot of trust in the amazing folks that work in elementary school cafeterias to make sure my kindergartener is eating more than just fruit and garbanzo beans. Seriously. She was excited about garbanzo beans. 

She’s also been duly excited to have been named table leader and to be able to help out in class. Sean and I have been instructed numerous times about our classroom behaviors at home and why we need to use the correct hand signal to notify each other that we need to go to the bathroom. We’re still a work in progress, but according to her we’re making progress.

However, there is one story that stands out from the rest, and it has to do with a kid named Pickle Cheese.

Yep, you read that right. Pickle Cheese. Back when my daughter was in preschool during the COVID years and there wasn’t a lot of opportunity for interaction and getting to know people outside the classroom, there was a kid in her class who – for almost a YEAR – she insisted was named Fingus. It wasn’t until there was an end-of-year outdoor gathering that we figured out the kid’s name was actually Felix. 

Despite this prior experience, when she came home the other week and I asked if she’d learned any more of her classmate’s names, I was caught more than a bit off guard when she listed out a few, “Gabby, Sarah, Pickle Cheese, Caleb…” 

Hold up. Pickle Cheese?

She clarified that the kid’s name was actually James, but he wanted that to be his “old name” so he gave himself a new one: Pickle Cheese. Given our history with poor Fingus and also in an attempt to honor this self-given moniker, I did question whether or not it was Pickle Juice instead of Pickle Cheese. I was swiftly corrected with great certainty, and it now brings me much joy to inquire each day how Pickle Cheese is doing. (In case you’re wondering, he’s doing great and seems to be navigating kindergarten just fine.)

Good ol’ Pickle Cheese got me thinking about reinvention and the intentionality of choice. I think James is onto something. He had an existing situation: being named James. He wanted to change his situation: not going by his “old name.” And he made an intentional choice: to be named Pickle Cheese instead. Lastly, he moved into courageous action: communicating clearly to others that this was how he would like to be referred to. If James at 5 years old can intentionally think through a self-reinvention and have the courage to communicate it, what’s stopping me? 

Think through an area of your life where you would love to enjoy some reinvention. What specifically would you like to be different? How would it feel if that were to be different? What would it take to actually make those changes? You may not be able to reinvent all of the parts of it at once, but what is one teeny-tiny step you can take in the direction of your reinvention today? I know for me, it’s that first small step that helps me get started, and the momentum builds from there. 

Maybe you’re not ready to change your name to Pickle Cheese, but I bet you’re ready for a reinvention somewhere. I know I sure am. 

- Nicole



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