So Roo has an actual name, but I'm not broadcasting it to the internets until after she's born and the name is final, because I am not insane. I've had enough "Clementine is a dumb name," thank you very much--and no, you'll all be glad to know it's not Clementine.
In fact, Roo has about a million names, because that is traditional in my family, although none of them are as bad as Stark or Brenner, for which my sisters are very thankful on Roo's behalf (what were my parents thinking? Clementine doesn't look so bad now, does it?) One of Roo's names is very long, which is also traditional (though not in my family, per se. Just in Hawaii.) My sister Hannah Stark was in charge of picking that long Hawaiian name, a job she took very seriously, and waited until she got it exactly right, despite ribs from my parents about how her "I need inspiration" thing was just an excuse, and why not just use a book? ("Oh, please," said Hannah Stark).
This is what she settled on:
It means "laughter from a place of joy and comfort," and beyond that, it means my family.
This is where she got her inspiration: my family likes to play cards. Or Trivial Pursuit. Or croquet. The game itself doesn't really matter. What we like to do is sit all crowded together in one place (there are many of us) and eat nothing more than Triscuits and cheese for hours and hours and do nothing more than laugh. Laugh at my cousin Katie asking for the millionth time in a single hand, "what was trumps again?" Laugh at my Uncle Bob playing a spade when he'd claimed he had no spades two seconds before. Laugh at Auntie Dawn, cutting the deck with one hand and very sweetly pretending she's not very good at cards (this schtick has been kept up for years. Years, I tell you.) Laugh at my grandfather dealing in his very professional, very precise method of five cards for one person, three for another, shuffle a little more, give this guy six cards, and then telling us all to count them just to make sure (it was never right. Ever.) Laugh at my Dad and Auntie Kathy twirling like ballerinas between hands for luck, and making it impossible for mom to see her cards through the tears. Of laughter.
That's Kani'ahemaikahuaomali'o. My sister wanted Roo to be a part of that, though she lives far away, and though she's not even born yet.