Apparently the rugrat renamed herself when moving to the new daycare and invented the most hilarious reason how she came to be called "Maria" but her name is spelled "Malia". The only people at her daycare that know her name is actually pronounced "Malia" are those with whom I have regular contact.
Apparently a couple of conversations I had with her last summer inspired her when she got to start at a fresh daycare where no one knew her ahead of time. In one, we were discussing names and I mentioned that Malia was the Hawaiian version of Mary and that Maria was the Spanish version of Mary. Apparently she decided that since she looks like Dora the Explorer she should be using the Spanish version. So, she introduced herself to all the kids and teachers as Maria. Until a couple weeks ago, not many noticed, they just thought they'd misread or misheard depending on where they fit into things. I had spoken with a couple teachers and so I knew she was calling herself that, and they knew she wasn't really Maria.
I went in a couple weeks ago to pay for February and got chatting with the girl manning the front desk. It was the first time I'd encountered her there and she looked all sorts of confused when I told her I was there to pay for Malia. She asked if I meant Maria and kind of had a pitying look when she pronounced the name. I told her no, I meant Malia and that apparently she was one of those who Malia had confused. It was then that she told me the story that rugrat came up with.
Apparently she told several people that the couple of years of Japanese I took in college had confused me on my Ls and Rs and I had spelled it Malia, but pronounced it Maria because of this. My reaction to this was, of course, to laugh. I laughed for quite some time because frankly that's just about the funniest damn explanation ever. I'm not sure what entertains me the most. The fact that rugrat came up with it, or the fact that people at the daycare totally BOUGHT it as valid. That explains the pitying looks that I receive from some of the teachers whenever I asked for Malia by name, or when I jokingly called her Maria.
In case you hadn't guessed, the other conversation we had last summer was about how there is no L in Japanese so in my class, my tutor called me Kerry most of the time because he had a REALLY hard time with Ls. Once again, I'm amazed at what she picks up and remembers from our conversations. Just like with the shark teeth.