The Oral Report

Standing up in front of the class was never so much fun!

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Location: River City, United States

The rantings and ravings of a mom of three wonderful girls as she finds new love while working like a dog and shaking her fist at the system. You know. Pretty much like everybody else.

Monday, August 07, 2006

What's Your Name, Little Girl, What's Your Name?

Highlander and I were talking, last week, about various co-workers whom we had known over the years. It was, the most casual of conversations. During the course of said conversation, Highlander mentioned a co-worker by (rather unusual) name. In all honestly, I don't remember the name. But, I do remember that it reminded me of one of the many temp receptionists we've had around my office. Her name was 'Precious'. Now, that was not a nickname. That was the child's given name.

Our conversation didn't take the tangent I'm getting ready to take, but it easily could have. You see, I have a 'thing' about kreativ names. Oh, I'm all about creativity and imagination. I think being an individual is kick ass. But all of those things are things you do for (and to) yourself. Naming a child is something you do to someone else. And you do it to them for a lifetime. It's different.

I'm not looking for converts, here. You see, I'm perfectly capable of ranting into the wind at will. Instead, I'm pulling out my virtual soapbox and dusting if off. Run now, while my back is turned. It's likely your only chance.

I don't think I'm alone when I say I can't take someone named 'Precious' seriously. When I'd take her something to mail, I had difficulty saying, "Can you mail this package for me, Precious?". Now I didn't mock her, because I pitied her. Here was this young woman who had had to deal with this situation day in and day out for all of her life. And she had a great deal more life to go. I just found it sad.

Growing up, I remember wanting to change my name. Wanting, for a while, to go by my middle name instead of my first name. Wanting a cooler name than the one my parent's saddled me with. (Hell, I was named after a bad Debbie Reynolds movie. Whaddaya want from me?) I knew other girls who felt similarly at the time. (Not my sister, though, her middle name was 'Gay'.)

My own children (named after various family members) have names that could never be considered cutting edge or provocative. My middle daughter who, ironically, shares my middle name, went through a similar stage where she considered going by her middle name, as well. I think she's pretty well beyond it now.

Historical names, foreign names, familial names, those I understand and appreciate. Celebrities naming their children after food or places or whatever whim strikes them (though never hard enough to render them unconscious so that someone else can fill out the birth certificate), well, I chalk that up to them being celebrities and I feel badly for their children.

About seven years ago, I joined my first on-line community. Babynames.com was a message board community run by the Moss sisters. Likely, it still is. I haven't been there in a very long time. I hung around in the earlier days when the community was a group of about 30-40 'regulars' and we talked about names. Names we liked. Names we didn't. The history of names. The associations of names. The teasing potential of names. It was a great deal of fun. I was pregnant with [Kid 3] and trying to figure out a name for her. About a year after she was born, I wasn't visiting the site as much.

It had grown and changed and more and more members were going with the more and more trendy names that don't do as much for me. Obviously, I'd outgrown my usefulness there. So, I moved on. No regrets. In fact, I have one of their cool tee shirts and lots of fond memories of those folks. Oh, my, though, the names I saw around that place.

A memorable one that stands out in my mind was Myquella. I remember the first time I saw it and thought, I have no idea what that is. It's a unique spelling of the name Mikayla. And it's one of those names that is setting some little girl up for a lifetime of having to correct spelling and pronunciation on a daily basis. Personally, I couldn't do that to a child I loved.

No more than I could name a child 'Vendetta'. And, yes, I know a girl with that very name. She is married to one of my first cousins. What kind of people would think that's a good name, completely putting aside anything like looking for an empowering name?

My dad used to work with a man whose name was 'Ordinary'. Worse, his last name was 'Green'. That's more than irresponsible. It's mean.

A pretty famous homicide here in River City happened some five years ago, was perpetrated by a man named Tiffany Dominique Pennington. Tell me that man had a chance in this world? You know he had to be a fighter from kindergarten on. Anyone with a name like that would be destined for a life of crime. Or possibly a sex-change.

I don't insist that a "name" makes someone who they are. That part comes from a great many things. But a name is the first thing that many people know about you. It marks you, indelibly, from birth. It follows you everywhere you go for the rest of your life. It's not something that should be applied blithely.

So, people, if you're expecting now or plan to be in the future, I implore you, PLEASE, give this a great deal of consideration. Do not handicap your child by saddling him/her with some cutesy, funny, oddly spelled, play on words kinda name. Give your child a name that will minimize their dysfunction and give them character. I hope you won't confuse this by thinking that I am all about picking the top 20 names for boys and girls. I, myself, find a great many names interesting and endearing. I happen to think that you can still find something unusual without going to extremes.

All I'm saying is that I don't want to be at the counter of Bob's Burger Barn, trying to read a name tag that says "Urethra" or being held up by some woman named "Herbert" who is righteously pissed at the world. Save the funny stuff for your goldfish. 'K?

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