Parents sometimes overdo it when they decide to be creative with their choice of a given name for their child. Some work, as far as being clever, but that doesn’t always translate into an enjoyable time for the offspring, who spends the rest of his life explaining the offbeat name or the cutesy spelling of a traditional name.
A more severe future might face a child being named for a celebrity by a parent who is an overzealous fan of a singer who might be talented (Todd Rundgren or Stefani Germanotta) but chose a publicity-inducing stage name in the early days. I’m betting it’s hard to get by the bullies at school when your name is Grunt or Gaga and you CAN’T sing. Or worse, what if Mom or Dad was a fan of a “15 minutes of fame” celebrity such as Milli Vanilli or Vanilla Ice.
Generally, I prefer the traditional because of the possible inconvenience of constant explanation or even the merciless kidding by classmates. Obviously, parents can name their child anything they want. Either you agree with me or you don’t, so I realize I am changing no one’s mind when I state my preference.
My time has passed as far as choosing names for children (Patrick Aaron, Molly Erin and Megan Kathleen, for the record), but I am reminded of all this because of a recent visit to a doctor’s office.
The woman called me up to the front desk to take my co-pay money and return my driver’s license and insurance card. We talked a bit and I asked her name. She said, “Molly.” I said, “I have a daughter named Molly.” She said, “‘y’ or ‘ie.,’” inquiring how my daughter’s name ended. “‘Y,’” I answered. “Good,” she said, smiling. “That’s how it should be.”
Soon I was called over by a nurse or aide to be weighed, measured and have my blood pressure tested. She wore a name tag that said, “Zim.” I asked her about it, and if it was short for something else. She answered affirmatively, adding, “My aunt came up with it. My brother’s name is Zachary Lynn […] and my dad wanted me to have the same initials, so I was named Zimberly Lauren […].”
After hearing the explanation, I was surprised to realize that I sort of liked the Zim/Zimberly combination. Though not usually the case with cutesy name endings like “i” or “ie.,” the odd or old-fashioned middle name often has a family background, such as being a maiden name or an old family name from a great-grandfather.
Live and learn, as they say. I doubt that I’m ready for a grandchild to be named “Mychell,” “Zippi” or even “Dougherty,” but I’m trying to listen more, in general, to educate myself and become more tolerant. Others are welcome to join me, if they dare.