Happy sat munching on a huge juicy strawberry. He loved afternoons like this. The sun was bright; he had his favorite fruit, and most of all he was with his Momma.
Happy adored his Momma and enjoyed spending time with her. Happy had just turned five years old and for some reason he found himself asking a lot of questions.
“Momma, what is jelly made of?” he asked.
“Jelly is made of fruit dear,” Mrs. Hampton would reply.
“That’s probably why I like it so much,” he stated with a grin.
“Probably and let me guess, Strawberry is your favorite?” she added.
“Well of course Momma,” Happy chided.
Momma always knew what he liked and that is what he loved about her the most.
Happy was deep in thought when his Momma said to him, “Penny for your thoughts.”
Happy looked at her and said, “Momma what does that mean?”
“Well Happy, it’s an old saying that your Grandma Hampton always says. It means I’ll give you a penny if you tell me what you are thinking,” she replied.
Happy giggled, “Momma you don’t have to pay me, I’ll tell you what I’m thinking about. I was wondering why you named me Happy.”
Mrs. Hampton looked at Happy and said, “Oh, well...your dad and I liked the name Happy. That is how you made us feel when you were born.”
Mrs. Hampton was startled with what Happy said next. “Well I don’t like the name Happy,” he pouted.
“Okay then what name would you have picked?” Mrs. Hampton looked at Happy with a grimace.
It didn’t take Happy long to answer, “Jack. That’s what I want to be called.”
Mrs. Hampton was a little surprised and replied, “Jack!? Why Jack?”
Happy just smiled and said, “I like it!”
Mrs. Hampton took a moment to think and told Happy, “Ok, we will call you Jack from now on, if that’s what you really want?”
“Really Momma?...Yeah, I want to be called Jack!” Happy chortled.
Happy couldn’t wait to tell all his friends about his new name. He just knew they would love it as much as he did.
The next day when Happy saw his friend Sunny the Snail, Sunny greeted him with, “Hello Happy. How are you today?”
Happy quickly corrected, “My name is Jack. I changed it yesterday.”
Sunny looked at Happy and wondered, “Why did you change your name to Jack?”
Happy enthusiastically replied with, “I like the name Jack! My Momma said it was okay.”
Sunny was really curious, “I like a lot of names, but I would never change mine. Sunny fits me, just like Happy fits you.”
Happy gave Sonny a disapproving look, “Happy does not fit me! I do not like it! I like Jack!”
“Okay, if that is what you really want to be called...” Sonny frowned.
“It is!” Happy insisted. “I need to go tell the rest of my friends so I will see you later.” Happy stated.
“Okay well I’ll see you later, Jack.” Sunny shouted after him.
Happy saw his friend Cheery the Chinchilla eating some nuts, “Hello Cheery, I changed my name to Jack.”
Cheery looked at him shocked, “You changed your name?”
Happy didn’t like Cheery’s response. “YES! I changed my name. I don’t like Happy. I like the name Jack!” Happy blurted.
Cheery paused for a moment and said, “I like the name Happy. I think it is a special name. I don’t think you should change it.”
“Well I don’t care if you like it. I changed my name to Jack and that is what you will call me.” Happy said miserably.
Cheery looked down at the ground and said, “Fine Jack, Please let me know when you see my friend Happy. He was a lot nicer to his friends.”
Cheery started to cry and left Happy standing there wondering why she was so upset. Happy thought that his new name, Jack, was a great name and his friends would agree eventually. They just needed time to get use to it.
He decided to go find his friend Pretty the Pig and see what she thought. He just knew she would like it. He found Pretty in her favorite mud hole.
“Hi Pretty, I changed my name to Jack.”
Pretty gazed at him a little confused, “Changed your name? You can’t just change your name.”
“Well yes I can and I did! I changed my name to Jack. Momma said that it was okay.” Happy replied angrily.
“Why would you do a thing like that? I like the name Happy.” Pretty expressed.
Happy took in a deep breath, “I do not like the name Happy! I changed my name to Jack! I like the name Jack! I don’t care what you think!” Happy shouted.
“Well I miss Happy. Happy would never yell at me. When you decide to be Happy again then we can be friends.” Pretty turned her back to Happy and started to cry.
Happy just could not understand why all his friends were acting this way. It was his name, why did they care if he changed it?
Happy knew one friend that would love his new name. Happy set off to see his friend Dreamy the dragonfly. Dreamy was playing in the dandelions when Happy spotted him. Dreamy shouted to Happy, “Hello Happy, Do you want to play?”
Happy replied with a proud look on his face, “Yes I would like to play, but I changed my name to Jack.” Happy just knew that Dreamy would like this new name, because Dreamy had an Uncle Jack.
Dreamy looked at Happy with a funny expression and said, “What? Did you just say that you changed your name to Jack?”
“Yes, I did. I don’t really like the name Happy and Momma told me I could change it to Jack,” replied Happy.
“Why did you pick the name Jack? I like your name, Happy,” replied Dreamy.
Happy was excited to tell Dreamy, “I like the name Jack! I know you must like the name too, because you have an Uncle Jack.”
“Yes I do like the name Jack, but that is my uncle’s name, not yours. Your name is Happy and I like calling you that,” Dreamy stated with stress in his voice.
“Well you are not going to call me that anymore! I am Jack now and that is what you will call me!” huffed Happy.
“Well, I guess we are not friends anymore then,” cried Dreamy. Dreamy flitted away as Happy sat down with a sad face.
Happy heard a voice from the tree above him, “What seems to be troubling you little one?”
As Happy looked up; he saw that it was Mr. Oakley the Owl. Mr. Oakley was a much older wiser owl that gave all the younger animals advice. “Oh, Mr. Oakley, All of my friends are mad at me.” Happy sighed.
“Why would they be mad at you, Happy?” Mr. Oakley asked.
Happy looked up at Mr. Oakley, “All I wanted to do is change my name to Jack.”
“Happy, why would you want to change such a wonderful name?” asked Mr. Oakley.
“I do not like the name Happy. I like the name Jack. Momma told me I could change my name, but when I told my friends they did not like it,” moaned Happy.
Mr. Oakley took Happy and set him on his lap, “Let me tell you a story. When I was very young, I too wanted to change my name.”
Happy looked at Mr. Oakley with surprise as he continued.
“I wanted my name to be Sam. I always liked the name Sam and I didn’t understand why I couldn’t pick out my own name. It was my name after all.”
“Why didn’t you change it then Mr. Oakley,” Happy interrupted.
“My grandfather sat me down, just as I am doing with you, and explained the importance of my name. When your parents gave you the name, Happy, it is a unique name that they felt suited you. When you are a parent you put a lot of thought into what you will name your child. Parents usually pick a name that means something to them.”
“Well my Momma said that it was how they felt when I was born,” Happy interjected.
“You see, they were Happy when you were born so that is why they gave you that name. I think Happy does suit you. Your friends were not mad at you. They wanted you to understand that they liked you for who you are, including your name. When you change your name, you also change who you are.”
“Maybe that’s why they told me to come back when I decided to be Happy again,” Happy mumbled.
“Cheer up little one, it will all work out.” Mr. Oakley encouraged.
“Thank you, Mr. Oakley,” Happy beamed.
“Your welcome um... err..., Jack.” Mr. Oakley stumbled.
Happy quickly replied, “No Mr. Oakley, You can call me Happy.”
Mr. Oakley smiled at Happy and said, “I think you have made a fine choice. You’d better get home for supper before your Momma misses you,” guided Mr. Oakley.
“Your right, but I need to stop and apologize to my friends first. Thanks again, Mr. Oakley.” Happy smiled.
Happy stopped to apologize to his friends and promised to see them the next day.
When Happy got home and sat at the supper table, his father asked, “How was your day today Happy?”
Momma spoke up and said, “Oh, Happy changed his name today. He wants to be called Jack.”
Mr. Hampton turned to his son with a grimace and before he could say a word, “No, Momma. I changed my mind. I like Happy. I think I’ll save Jack for when I have children,” Happy said grinning.
Mr. Hampton just continued eating and as Happy peered up at his Momma, she winked at him and gave him a great big hug. “I love you, Happy.”
“I love you too, Momma.”
No part of this work can be borrowed, reused, given away, used as an example, reprinted, adapted, etc, without written consent form the author. Copyright by Renee Hall. 2009
Renee lives in North Carolina, USA.
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