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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

“Is that Tom or Taughm?” – So What Did You Name Your Child?

Names are important to us as human beings. One clear indicator of how important they are is the extreme to which some parents will go in finding unique names for their children. On the one hand you have parents who are comfortable with traditional names like Zack or Josh—both of these are classic Bible names. But other parents follow the naming trends of the day. This is kind of funny to me because in following a naming trend a person is usually trying to stay away from old fashioned names. For instance, my father’s name is Rodney.  Back in the 1930’s this was a common name and very respectable. Today you wouldn’t dream of naming your child Rodney because it sounds, well, black and white. You know, like it came about before the world had color TV. Instead you follow the latest trend and get an Aiden, Brayden, Kayden, Shaden, Haiden, or one of twenty other versions of ‘aden. Of course in thirty or forty years these names will be avoided because they will be names that only old people have.

There are those who stay with a traditional name but try to make it unique by spelling it in some warped way. Take the simple and classic name of Megan. Traditionally this is a name that a child can give to a teacher and the teacher can quickly spell it correctly in her roll. But I have met a Mehgan and a Mayghan, and a Maighgen. While choosing such a unique spelling is the right of any parent in a free country, I think it is often done without consideration for their child, who is going to have be spelling their name for people their entire life, or for others who are going to be told, “You spelled it wrong!” and be forced to apologize and then act normal when they hear the outlandish spelling of a simple name.  Think twice before giving Katy the spelling Kaiytea.

Other jokers don’t go for weird spellings, but instead go for funny. I know a fellow who had eight children and decided to make their names rhyme. There is Tory, Cory, Rory, Clory, Lory, Jory, Glory, and Story. What was he thinking? My wife asks me that all the time. I have to remind her that she agreed to these names. My kids use the rhyming nature of their names against me often. If I call Rory in for a doughnut when I mean to call Jory, Jory mysteriously seems to know who I mean and comes running. However, when I call Glory in to help with dishes when I mean Jory, Jory won’t budge until I get his name right. “My name isn’t Glory, Dad!” My defense of the rhyming names is that even if your kids’ names are nowhere near alike you still have to run through the list to get the right one. Admit it.

What has caught me off-guard is the many names that my children have given me. With eight of them there are definitely going to be variables. To some I am just “Dad.” I like that name. I called my dad “Dad” most of my life and it brings warm feelings to my heart. These past few years I have found myself calling him “Poparino” which is long for “Pop” for those of you who don’t get it. For whatever reason, he accepted this name without a blink. It was probably for the same reason I accepted “El Favio” from my second son without question. I’m not sure where that came from other than “Fa” in “Favio” is the same as “Fa” in “Father.” My third son will often throw out “Padre” when referring to me. I can handle that. I have heard the formal “Father” used around the house. I raise my eyebrows at this name and try to stand a little taller. But the name that melts my heart every time is “Daddy” when used by my sixteen-year-old daughter. When she adds a kiss on my cheek while using this name she gets whatever she wants. I have no defense.

Names are a never-ending world of creativity, wonder, and delight. What interesting naming situations have you run into?

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