I ordered my sister from a catalog.

The other day I mentioned how I named my sister after a preschool friend.

When I was 3, I was looking at a catalog - maybe a toy catalog or a catalog for a baby supply store a la Babies R Us - and I found a picture of a blonde toddler girl in it. My friend Elizabeth was older than me, and blonde, and I thought she was great and that her name was the best name. (I have no idea what her last name is, what became of her, etc.) I had been telling my parents that I wanted a baby sister. I took the catalog to them, pointing at the picture of the toddler with blonde hair and light eyes, and said, “I want that baby to be my little sister. Her name will be Elizabeth.”

My parents, both dark-haired, one with brown eyes and one with blue, said, “We’ll do our best, but we might not be able to get that exact baby.” I was adamant.

I did get a little sister. When my mom went into labor (we were in the middle of having pizza for dinner, and her water broke, and she said, “Oof! My water broke!”), I went to my grandmother’s house and spent the night with her. In the morning, I talked with my parents on the phone. “You have a baby sister,” they told me. I was like, DUH. “Her name is Mary Elisabeth.”

I was LIVID. I scolded them for giving her the wrong name. Elizabeth, with a Z, was supposed to be her first name. And they’d made it her middle name? That was untenable. (I wouldn’t put it past my four-year-old self to know the word untenable, but I don’t think I did.)

They explained that “Elisabeth Mary” didn’t sound as good. I don’t know if I ever found out why they went with the S instead of the Z. I prefer the S now anyway.

She was born with light brown hair and light eyes, but it quickly became apparent that my parents had, in fact, produced a blonde baby sister for me. Eventually I forgave them for getting her name wrong.

Kimberly Hirsh @kimberlyhirsh