What’s in a Name?

Didi Dragonfly Weath-Weath, running like a maniac.

Didi Dragonfly Weath-Weath, running like a maniac.

We’ve been taking a lot of road trips lately, and L and R have come up with a fun new game for the occasions.

The premise of this exercise is simple: The morning of a big drive, we each pick new identities to assume for the duration of our trip. From that point forward—at least until we reach our destination—we must refer to each other by these assumed names and personas.

Not surprisingly, because our girls are, well, girls, most of the alter egos revolve around princesses.

This weekend, for instance, on a drive from our home north of San Francisco to see friends who live south of the city, L declared she was “Princess Tulip,” while R assumed the name, “Didi Dragonfly Weath-Weath.” On a separate road trip, to see a fish hatchery nearby, L was “Princess Sunny” and R was “Princess Boomer.”

(In case you’re wondering, for both instances Powerwoman was “Princess Ladybug” and I was “Balaenoptera Dadificus,” or “B.D.,” for short.)

Generally speaking, the name game is a great exercise in creatively passing time.

For starters, it inspires the girls to draw pictures of who they’ve just become—these art sessions usually take place at the breakfast table, while Powerwoman and I furiously dash around to pack up snacks and load the car.

En route, the game also is a great conversation starter; we encourage both girls to tell us stories about their characters. (Often, they tell the stories simultaneously. Go figure.)

Still, the exercise has its drawbacks.

L is incredibly serious about all of us calling each other by the assumed names, and forgetting to do so can really piss her off. What’s more, even though I’m the only male human in the family, apparently I’m not allowed to pick a “Prince” name because there’s only one prince in the family, and that’s our cat (the girls call him, “Prince Coomer”).

These negatives are minuscule. The Name Game is a great (kid-driven) activity for road trips, and I recommend it without reservation. And if you’re worried about forgetting the names in your family (or if your family is bigger than ours), there’s always the option of name tags.

What are some of your favorite ways to pass time on a family road trip?

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