Having a child means an endless list of responsibilities. Little beings reliant on us for food, clothing, shelter and tons of other things over the course of their lives. Its not only a never ending job, but one that starts before we even take them home.
They need a name, a means to be referred to by the world. Something for you to sing as you rock them to sleep, whisper as you ask your God to watch over them, yell one hundred times a day as they grow older. A name is also how they will refer to themselves, the first step towards self actualization and development of sense of identity.
A name is often the first thing that is known about a person, a first impression that can convey race, gender or heritage, with all the institutional judgments and prejudices that knowledge brings. It provides insight into the person’s parents, thus giving a potential glimpse into how a child was raised. It’s a person’s calling card, something they will carry throughout all phases of their life.
If it’s so important, the first great test of parenthood, how do so many people screw it up? A need to reject conformity and cultivate our children’s individuality and uniqueness that instead leaves them saddled with a horrendous moniker for the rest of their lives, cursing their clever parents every time they correct somebody’s pronunciation or ask to be referred to by their middle or nicknames.
I work at a hospital and am presented with dozens of different names daily. As much as it contradicts my tenet against judging others, I’m finding more and more of these names absolutely ridiculous, sometimes downright nonsensical. I won’t use any examples in an attempt to not alienate any potential readers, but if the pronunciation of your child’s name is phonetically antithesis to the organization of letters used in it’s visual form, I may be talking about you. I haven’t been able to independently verify this information, so there is the possibility I am propagating fake news, but I have heard tell of children now being named Hijkmnop, pronounced Noel. If you don’t get it at first, neither did I. Noel – no L.
It’s a difficult task, and one my wife and I didn’t take lightly. My first choice of girl’s name was Kahlan, pronounced the same as her preferred boy name, Colin. Her second choice of boy name was Luke, ironic because my first offering was Skywalker. Upon learning that we would be having a girl we settled on Alaina, my second choice, with a middle name of Shay, her first. Had we a male offspring, there is therefore a very real chance that he would be named Luke Skywalker Barnes, a difficult legacy to live up to. Whether he or society would have ever appreciated this awesomeness is now rendered rhetorical debate, but is a good reminder of why I try not to judge.