We were registering my son’s pigs for the county fair. He has done it one year already (it’s one of my all-time favorite posts) and this year he was an ace at reporting the breed, class, weight, and ear notching. But when it came time to give his last name, he said, “Rodriguez.”
The woman said, “Can you spell it?”
He said, “Um. No. I don’t think so.”
I spelled it.
It’s my ex-husband’s name, and, to be honest, we never use it. There is not really a reason to. I fill out forms for signing up for things that are official (airline tickets). And he signs up for things that are unofficial (he is Chompcrackers on YouTube).
I have thought before of changing the kids’ names to my own last name. But really, my own last name is not really my last name. I mean, it is now, but at this point I’d have to say that for me, a name is ephemeral.
My ex and I actually get along very well, and we co-parent, with the Farmer, in a single home, so I would not want to do anything to jeopardize how well things are going. And leaving the kids’ name the same as his seems like a nice thing to do given how nice he has been since the divorce.
That’s the really sweet, good-will story behind the name. But there’s another thing: Latino men are the most underrepresented demographic in US colleges. If it’s extra hard for a white girl to get into college, it is extra easy for a Latino male to get into college. My kids are rightfully one quarter Latino, and I want them to be counted as Latino males in the system.
In Darlington, someone who was trying to help me acclimate to rural life told me, “You should change the kids’ last names when they enter school so there are no problems.”
I have learned a lot about discrimination, in fact, from having an (ex) husband and sons with Latino last names.
I think college is a stupid rip-off waste of time, and I can’t imagine how I’m going to convince my kids to study for the SAT when I am telling people, in front of my kids, that we don’t do standardized tests. But still, the kids are growing up on a farm, and I think that they might need college in order to acclimate to the non-farm world where they will need to earn a living.
So I’m not giving up that Latino advantage. And I’m going to work hard on making sure the kids use their last name more. I want them to know they are Latino. I think it’ll help them some day.