“I know what I’m going to name my children now!” Lydia yelled up at me with an elvish grin.
The statement took me off guard, and it was a few seconds before I responded. we were standing in the middle of a stranger’s backyard waiting in line to ride a pony at a young girl’s birthday party. Surrounding the yard were massive pastel colored helium balloons, and streamers hanging from the trees and roof awnings. Laughing children ran past the porch where a DJ was dancing awkwardly to “All About That Bass”. I felt like I had just woken up inside someone else’s dream. I shook my head and leaned down beneath the cloud of noise and confusion that was swirling everywhere like a dense pink smoke.
“What?!” is all I could think to say when I was finally face to face with my 5-year old daughter.
She grabbed my hand as if realizing my unsteadiness. “I said, I know what I’m going to name my children now. I was just thinking about it, and I decided.”
“Oh,” I narrowed my eyes as if it would help block out some of the noise. “Maybe this isn’t a good time to name your children,” I suggested. “You are about to get on a horse.”
“No,” she rolled her eyes. Who teaches little girls to roll their eyes? “I’ve been thinking about this for a long time. I’m just ready to tell you now.”
“Okay… Alright… What are you going to name your children, Lydia?”
“First,” she smiled and counted them off on her delicate fingers. “Rockstar.”
“Rockstar?” I asked.
“Rockstar,” I repeated back to her and nodded. “That makes sense.”
“Next,” another finger went up. “Princess.”
“Oh. Okay, not too surprising I guess. And I like how their names double as occupations. I sometimes wish my parents had just named me Engineer. It would have saved me a lot of time.”
“Yes,” she agreed, not really paying any attention.
“That’s your name,” I reminded her.
“Yes,” she pointed at herself. “Lydia.”
I couldn’t tell if her third child was going to share her name, or if she herself was going to be her own third child. Nothing is impossible, I thought to myself glancing back and forth at the circus happening around me and making sure no clowns were sneaking up behind me with knives.
“Okay, Rockstar, Princess, Lydia… then what?”
“Then,” she said, “Hool.”
I blinked, “Say that one again.”
She bowed for some reason and then repeated the word, “Hool.”
“Alright. So… like a mix between an owl and the sound that an owl makes?”
She considered this for a moment, “Yeah.”
“Yeah,” I echoed.
“Number…” she counted her fingers quickly, “Five? Five. Number five is named Jump.”
I suddenly fell over backward and had to scramble to get back up. “I’m sorry. What was that last one?”
I suddenly fell over backward again.
“Jump is not a name, Lydia,” I said when I was upright again and my lightheadedness had passed. “Jump is… it’s just not a name, alright?”
“Okay, so number five is Jump,” she continued.
I threw up my hands and waited for her to continue. “More? How many of these weird little babies are you planning to makes?”
“Six,” she looked at her fingers, “So one more. And she is named…” she tapped the side of her head. “Oh, right. Her name is going to be Ring.”
“Oh, okay. Okay. You know. After bringing home little Rockstar, Princess, Lydia…”
“Then Hool,” she reminded me.
“Right, then Hool, and little,” I took a deep breath and closed my eyes, “Jump, you will introduce everyone to baby Ring and they will all say ‘Oh wow! She finally gave one of them a normal name!'”
She gave me a thumbs up.
I laughed and shook my head. “Alright Lydia,” I said finally, giving her a big hug. “Thanks for letting me know what you are going to name your babies. Every one of them is perfect, and I will love them forever. And look!” I pointed, “You are next in line to ride the pony now.”
The little girl shivered with excitement and spun in a quick circle.
I looked around at the tornado of joy spinning around us in all directions. A child ran past with two fists full of cotton candy. A snow cone machine whirled to life around the corner. A crowd cheered for seemingly no reason. The DJ started a song about finding love on the dancefloor.
Perhaps I wasn’t so out of place after all. Perhaps this surreal wonderland is exactly where my surreal little family belonged. I closed my eyes and said a quiet prayer for all six of my surreal grandchildren.