The family walked in late to the courtroom, after all the other cases were decided and everyone was gone. The bailiff showed them to the table usually used by attorneys. This family had no attorney. They took their seats and looked at me.
“Are you here for the name change?”
They said they were, their hair styles and clothing faintly reminiscent of the middle eastern heritage suggested by the names on the paperwork but their voices completely unaccented.
The mother and father appeared to be around 30 years old, their young son sitting with them.
“How old are you?” I asked.
He looked at his mother and then back at me, holding up four fingers.
“Four?” I said with exaggerated wonder. “I thought you were at least ten!”
He giggled silently, little shoulders shaking as he shared a grin with his mother.
I asked the reason for changing their son’s name and how they chose the new one. Both the old name and the new one reflected their heritage and – as they explained – faith.
“He chose the new one,” the father said as he smiled at his son.
I looked at the boy again. “Do you know that’s going to be your name now?”
He grinned some more.
I signed the name-change decree and sent them to the clerk’s office to finish the paperwork.
“Thank you, your honor,” the mother and father both said. “Can you say thank you to the judge?” the mother prompted the little boy.
He looked at me and grinned some more.
“As-salāmu ʿalaykum, little guy,” I said.
His father turned with a smile and waved over his shoulder as they disappeared out the door.