DR. WALLACE: I'm 17 and will graduate from high school in June. My given names are Tillie and Juanita; all of my family, friends and even teachers call me "T.J.," because I despise the first name Tillie and middle name Juanita. The day after my 18th birthday, I'm going to legally change my given names to Tiffany Jennifer. (I can still be T. J.)
As a young child, I suffered when my classmates called me "Silly Tillie Billy." I wanted to be called T.J. when I started junior high. I was named after my mother's mother (Tillie) and my father's mother (Juanita). My parents and Grandmother Juanita are all in favor of me changing my name, but Grandma Tillie is protesting. To complicate things, Grandma Tillie lives with our family. What is the best way to appease her? I have to be tender with her because she is a wonderful and beautiful lady and I love her very, very much. In fact, I love absolutely everything about her except for her centuries-old name! — T.J., via email
T.J.: When Grandmother Tillie reads your letter in the newspaper, she will be thrilled that you have told the world she is a wonderful and beautiful lady and that you love her very, very much. She will also realize that the name Tillie is just that — a name. Then tell her that when she — and only she — calls you T.J., for her, the "T" can stand for Tillie. You deserve the right to be comfortable with your given name, and your grandmother deserves all of the kindness, love and respect that she has obviously earned well over the years.
ONE LITTLE MISTAKE
DR. WALLACE: I'm 19, and the girl I've been going with for two years told me she never wanted to see me again because of one little mistake, which I admitted to and apologized for. Don't you think my girlfriend should be understanding and forgiving with me? We had two great years, and now it's like those years never happened nor meant anything. — Confused Dude, via email
CONFUSED DUDE: One little mistake? You don't say what it is and I won't speculate, but obviously, it wasn't so little from the point of view of your "ex" girlfriend. Everything is relative, especially when it comes to personal relationships. All you can do is apologize and ask for forgiveness. If she chooses not to forgive you, your best bet is to learn from your mistake and get on with your life. Since you obviously still care for this young lady, do tell her that you understand how she feels right now and agree she deserves the space she's requested. You may also let her know that you'd like to hear from her again sometime if she ever wants to talk things over further. Then, take a deep breath and move on.
This is the best you can do in my opinion, based on what you've provided. Your former girlfriend likely won't be back anytime soon, if at all, so accept that and look to rebuild your social life whenever you feel ready.
And if you are fortunate enough to be in the company of another young lady you learn to care for deeply in the future, make sure your "one little mistake" doesn't happen again. Life is a grand learning experience, and it appears you are learning a tough lesson at this time.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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