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More than two years have passed since I first reported that my oldest son decided to change his name.

He had just completed a seventh-grade assignment to write a biography on somebody famous. Jimmy and his friends decided focus on dead rock stars.

Since a classmate already had dibs on Kurt Cobain, my son chose Jimi Hendrix.

He was so wowed by Hendrix’s accomplishments that he decided to change the spelling of his name to match that of his new hero.

Perhaps it was bad luck that some other kid chose Cobain, because I know for a fact that I never would have allowed Jimmy to change his name to Kurt.

I never gave him permission to become "Jimi," but because it was a change that only showed up on paper, I let it go for a while. Even my more conservative husband didn’t see any harm in allowing Jimmy to spell his name differently.

We were both certain the whole "Jimmy/Jimi" business was just a phase our son would grow out of as quickly as he grew out of last month’s sneakers.

My son had pulled a similar stunt in fifth grade. For reasons I have yet to determine, Jimmy decided at the age of 10 that he wanted to be called "Jamie."

We laughed at him for about a week, and then he gave up on the idea.

Now, he claims the whole "Jamie" incident never happened and accuses the rest of the family of fabricating the whole thing to embarrass him. I wish the "Jimi" switch was such a distant memory.

Unfortunately, it stares me in the face every time I see his name on a homework assignment. My son is now a freshman in high school and hasn’t spelled his name correctly since the fall of 2006.

His teachers and coaches all refer to him as "Jimi" in their e-mails. Should I admit defeat now, publicly, and move on to fight bigger battles?

It is probably the wise thing to do, with debates over curfews and driving privileges looming in the near future.

But I still don’t like it (Not one little bit!), and I plan to continue spelling his name the way I have spelled it since he entered this world in 1993.

I have come to relate this whole name-changing business to adolescence.

"Jimi" is the gangly teen who is eight inches taller than me and talks in a man’s voice. He’s so proud of his scary-looking armpit hairs that he shows them off by going around in a wife-beater anytime the temperature is above 50 degrees outside.

"Jimmy" is the little boy who took years to master the art of shoe-tying and insisted on finding his favorite bunny at bedtime. As his mother, I should be allowed to keep spelling his name the way I want. After all, it was me who tied his shoes for him all those years and searched the house for that raggedy piece of fur every night.

No matter what he calls himself or how big and hairy he gets, Jimmy will always be my little boy. I may strain my neck every time I try to have a conversation with him, but in my mind, he is still the toddler who once screamed out in church, "Barney is a dinosaur!"

A mother of three boys, Pam Zich has been married to a Marine for 18 years and currently lives in Springfield, Va. You may e-mail her at homefront@stripes.osd.mil or visit her Web site at www.lifeonthehomefront.com.


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