Unique, wonderful children

Tales from the front pew

I have a bone to pick with younger moms, and it involves names.

Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand that each child is unique and wonderful.

I certainly felt that way about my own two kids until they became teenagers — at which point I just thought they were scary. I guess that explains the temptation to give our progeny names that reflect that individuality.

To be fair, today’s young mothers are no doubt influenced by celebrities who apparently think being filthy rich and spoiled rotten aren’t sufficient to make their tykes stand out in the crowd. That’s why Kim Kardashian’s daughter is called “North West” and Gwynneth Paltrow’s little mini-me is named “Apple.”

The Hollywood crowd plays by its own rules, but when regular folks adopt this weird name practice it’s rather unfortunate, especially for those of us over the age of 50.

I make this observation for two reasons: one, once we reach a certain age we prefer to deal with the familiar. In other words, I’m much more comfortable with “Sheila” than I am with “Shalala.” If I see Sheila written down on paper, I know how to pronounce it. If I see Shalala, on the other hand, my first assumption is that my eyeglasses need cleaned.

Two: many, if not most, people over a certain age have some hearing deficits. This is where context comes into play.

I know that “Mary” is a name, and even when I hear it mumbled it’s not too had to figure out. However, not being familiar with the concept of “Gage,” “Sage” or “Paige” being names of actual people, making sense out of what I think I’m hearing is difficult.

To make matters worse, children and young people aren’t terribly charitable when you screw up their names.

I found this out the other day upon meeting a young woman of approximately 14 years of age. When I inquired about her name, she muttered something that sounded a lot like “Charity.”

“What a pretty name,” I told her. “Charity has a sort of pilgrim ring to it.”

“Not ‘Charity,'” she said, rolling her eyes and saying her name again. This time I was sure I’d gotten it right.

“Um … ‘Calamity,’ huh? Well, that’s not something you hear every day,” I smiled. “It has a sort of wild west vibe to it. You know, like ‘Calamity Jane.'” I’d have given anything for a plain ‘Jane’ about then.

“My name’s not Charity or Calamity,” she said, speaking slowly as she apparently thought I was senile. “It’s Calliope.” She then proceeded to spell it out.

“Oh, like what they play at the fair,” I smiled. “Well, that’s very, ah, musical.” I don’t think she heard that last part, though, as her friend had come into view and she bolted for the door in an attempt to get away from the “crazy name lady.”

Yep, we want our children to be set apart.

Raising them to be kind, compassionate, and God-fearing is the best way to do it.


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