Recently, I have begun to branch out in my daily newspaper reading. Now that I have discovered the birth announcements, I am no longer confined to the police blotter to keep up with the myriad ways humans can commit crimes against the innocent.
Don’t believe me? Just read your local paper’s birth announcements. There you will see for yourself that there really are otherwise perfectly sane and lovely people who name their children “Alltruism” and “Hayllheigh.”
Crimes. It may be too late to save little “Mikhaill Jaxson” or the twins named “Silk” and “Satin,” but if you haven’t already committed what ought to be a felony against your soon-to-be-named infant, there may still be time for you to save yourself: Or more important – your child.
Trust me, you really don’t want to bestow on an innocent infant a name with nontraditional or alternate spelling. Ask yourself if you really want your child to be constantly saying “that’s Mikalle” with two “L’s”” or “no, no, NO, it’s “Taylahr,” with an “H.”
Certainly in the average life that is time better spent mowing your lawn or discovering a cure for cancer.
Middle. This is not to say that I don’t understand your desire to leave a lasting impression on your offspring. If your need for creativity cannot be denied, that space between the first and last name can be put to good use. A middle name is like a tattoo on your backside: It’s always there, but it’s really up to you who sees it.
So it goes with a good old fashioned embarrassment of a middle name. This is where you can stretch your wings and saddle your child with a name that will permit her to know who her real friends are.
Her real friends are the ones who know that her middle name is “Nirvana.” If you think I’m kidding about creative names, cast your mind back a generation. In the 1970’s a free spirited (maybe somewhat addled) generation of young parents saddled their offspring with names like “Windy,” “Sunny,” “Spring” and the occasional “Freedom” or “Oz.”
Needless to say, when those glorious days of youth wore thin – and they sobered up – so to did the wisdom of such impetuously chosen appellations.
Imagine coming to your senses just in time to realize you did indeed name your baby “Freedom Space” and you are going to have to yell THAT across a playground or ball field for the next ten years.
Self-fulfilling. No, as time marched on, those who believe that a name is a self-fulfilling prophecy saw such creative “hippie” names as less a ticket to a free spirited journey down life’s highway and more as a ticket toward becoming the featured performer at a strip-club advertised along some highway.
Thus, many a “Freedom” and “Sunny” has since changed his or her name to a nice, middle-of-the-road sort of Michael, Karen, Tim or Beth. Doubt it? Ask yourself when was the last time you met a bank manager or neurosurgeon named Oz?
This is not to say that the imaginative among us have cornered the market on doing very bad things to babies. No, having successfully squashed the urge to name a hapless babe after a soap opera star or environmental movement, we must address the calamity that might occur when the pendulum swings too far the other way.
I am speaking of the overwhelming urge shown by some parents to give no thought at all to their baby’s name and instead stick to what they already know well how to spell.
Junior league. I speak, of course, of “Juniors.” I believe I’ve said it before, but I firmly believe that when you “Junior” someone, you deny his (or her?) individuality. It tells Junior “You are your parent, only less.”
Diminution. Is infancy really the best place to begin the inevitable struggle with issues of self-esteem? No, a more positive take could be achieved with a nice upgrade: Think “John Smith Plus.”
This would imply that this is the new and improved model with most of the bugs found in the base model having been successfully worked out.
Granted, it might imply that the original John Smith was rushed through production and may have been put on the market prematurely, but isn’t that a risk you should be willing to take in naming a baby after yourself?
Speaking of risk, if you could be sure your Junior would grow up to be a huge success, it might be nice to bask in his reflected glory. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work out the way it is hoped. Imagine the awkwardness in being Lee Harvey Oswald Sr.
Honestly, I say it’s your baby and you should go hog wild in combining the classic with the hip! For a truly trendsetting achievement in baby naming, forget Junior altogether. Name your baby the Bill Gates way: Think John Smith 2.0! That, my friends, is modern!
(Kymberly Foster Seabolt has saddled her offspring with nice, boring names. She welcomes comments c/o firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460.)
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