Saturday, March 14, 2015


Growing up with four other siblings, an experience of what I call “name confusal” often occurred in my home.  My mom or dad would speak to me, calling me by one of my sibling’s names. 

“Pam, would you get me the newspaper?  No, Mike.  I mean Kim.” 

“I’ll get it for you, Mom.  But, I’m Deb.”

“Steve, pass the potatoes.  No, Mike.  Pam.  Kim…”

“Here are the potatoes, Dad, “ responded Deb.

You get the point.  I had it happen to me and, if truth were told, I have done the same thing with my own children.   It is an annoying little occurrence that makes me slightly irritated to not be recognized by my own name or frustrated that I am mixing up the names of my own children. 

This common phenomenon of name confusal is happening with two of my friends and me.   And this time, this name confusal has not been one of irritation or frustration—rather, one of a bit of wonder and fun.

Friends for many years, name confusal began during a week when a number of friends gathered in the Adirondacks and has continued ever since.  It was then that the DebJenBarb name confusal began. 

We make an unlikely and delightful threesome.   Often not together, months can pass before the three of us are in the same room. Spanning in 10 years, (61, 51, and 41) we each bring a unique and lovely difference to our bond.  We are distinctly different.  We don’t look alike.  We have varying interests and our mannerisms and expressions are different.  Yet, something about us is specifically similar.  The similarity is illusive. What is it??   Is it energy?   In the distinct difference there exists a connection that somehow makes Jen, Deb and Barb at moments be JenDebBarb.

I wonder, is this subtle similarity the reason for the name confusal?  Or is it simply because each of us having one-syllable names?  The name confusal happens not only by others, but by each of us. JenDebBarb.  BarbJenDeb.  DebJenBarb.  When together, at least one time someone will call me Jen or Barb.  Or call Jen Deb or Barb.  Or call Barb Jen or Deb.

BarbJenDeb is nice energy to have and give.  Friendship entwines us in unexpected ways.  Distinctly different and subtly similar…each of us.  And together something new, bigger exists.  Because we are each there.  Not only Barb, Jen and Deb, but BarbJenDeb.

Thanks for being there Jen.  No I mean Deb.  Ooops.  I’m Deb.  I mean Barb.  

Oh well.  You get what I mean.  Its just that JenDebBarb thing.

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for dedicating space and time for teachers and teachers of literacy to come together to share ideas, practice and life experience.


  1. I love this! Somehow, you try to name and capture something that is really elusive. I have name confusion with my own 2 daughters, Maddie and Katie, but you make it sound complimentary in a way, rather than irritating. A very enjoyable read.

  2. Smiling from ear to ear... yes, we certainly are inter-twingled and It's interesting and fun and amusing all at once. It's also an honor to be in such beautiful company.
    Love, Barb (or is it Deb? or Jen??)

  3. I do this too! I have a theory about my mixup. Whomever I have the most conversation and sometimes conflict with I over use. Sometimes I find myself calling a kid the dog's name.

  4. Looking at the picture I see the same beautiful energy coming from those smiling faces. As for name confusion.....I told my mother (jokingly) that it wasn't until I was in the first grade that I realized my name was Jackie and not Linjac. My sister, Linda was older, so I figure that is why her name came if it came second, it would be close to my formal name. When at family functions my sister confuses her daughter, Maggie and me. She is often Jacmag. All of this is funny as I know it has to happen in all families. As for you and your friends....there must be a connective energy you all share. Jackie (or is it Linjac?)

  5. JenDebBarb...great friendships endure. You are lucky!

  6. JenDebBarb...great friendships endure. You are lucky!

  7. Delightful post! As an only child, you made me wonder what it would have been like to have siblings....

  8. My mother did the name confusion with my brothers, but they all started with the same letter. However, every once and a while the dog's name was thrown into the mix and that did not match the brothers' letter. I think it's pretty awesome to have a trio that is so close the names just bubble from the speaker's lips.