I’ve posted previously about naming your kid and I stand by my original proclamation: what the hell is in a name but our own vanities and expectations? Really people, what is in a name? What is your investment in the naming of my child? Why do you care so much about what I name my child? The unrelenting campaigners against my allegedly odd short list of considerations are obnoxious, tedious at best, and completely outrageous at the level of misinformation and fear tactics that they try to employ to manipulate me to their way of thinking and … well… naming. I’ve heard the same argument time and time again:
Kids will pick on your child if you give them a weird name. You don’t want to give kids ammunition to pick on them and naming them something weird will just give them an easy target to make fun of because your kid’s name is weeeeeeird.
Sure, I can be yogic and take deep breaths and meditate and come up with something nice to say like “thank you for your opinion” but I just want to tell the people that continuously breathe down my neck with the name-your-kid-against-bullying nonsense to shut the butt up about this bully shit. I really see grievance with “odd” names (because my name is “normal” the pick for my kid is “odd”) as close-mindedness and fear-based thinking. So to all the lumping haters:
Your name is absolutely meaningless when it comes to the bully’s warpath for terrorizing you into a hell of their making. In the effort for the disenfranchised youth to tear you to proverbial shreds making fun of any name loses its fun value to bullies almost instantly. Kids who really want to destroy you go straight for every facet of your existence– fat, small, tall, skinny, dumb, smart, ugly, pretty, well-dressed, dirty clothes… Your name is simply the way they identify you as their target. This may or may not include some butchering of your birth name (Slutphia, Sloppy Joe, Hymen, Spamantha, Frankfarter… I’m sure you have a list of your own.) but it is certainly the prelude to a lovely sermon of shit in your honor. Sure, every kid (and some adults for that matter) is going to say something stupid about every name at least once including a humiliating pronunciation of the given name, chronic misspellings, or plain bad jokes.
Even “normal” names and especially “foreign” names will be butchered impressively at every opportunity:
I’m sorry, did you say your name was cunt?
No. It’s Khan. I’m Vietnamese asshole.
Nope. Not Hymen at all. That would be Jaime. Like Hi-May. Not the female body part… Not that at all.
How do you spell your name?
S-A-R-A-H. Sar-ahhhh. Sarah with an H.
Yup. That’s it. Sara. No H. I didn’t mention the H at all so that makes sense you would write my name without an H. Yes. So much sense.
Sure, it makes it easier if your name is popular or “normal” so that you can nominally bore people into shutting up about you. But it will never deter bullies from torturing you if you fall onto the bully radar for being unique or threatening (by being awesome) in some way to the fragile ego of a less well-parented and securely raised individual. Jose is a pretty “normal” name and yet how many stupid jokes include “Jose” in them? Same thing with Bob, John, and other “normal” names. So most importantly here, the message is it’s not the fricking name.
I’m not going to name or not name my child for imaginary bullies that may or may not pick on my kid. Assuming my child is going to be doomed to a life of being bullied because of the name I chose for them is incredibly flawed thinking. You can no more predict the future than you can the fact you’re going to get knocked up and have to name a tiny person. If my kid gets picked on, so be it. I’m not going to enter in to life decisions including naming my child on the off-chance bullying might happen when there is no more guarantee of harassment than there is of my kid doing the harassing.
But just in case there was some validity to the concern for the names I’m choosing, let me be clear that I’m not naming my child something totally messed up or unhinged in some way like Princess Cunt Sucker the Third or Han Millenium Falcon Solo or Bad Ass Mother Fucker or Whatever (I’ve known a child that got named Whatever). I’m tossing around the idea of classic names from other cultures (extant and presently existing) or other cool shit (maybe I’ve considered things in space and various medias as sources). But regardless of its present source (cunt has meant goddess at least once in the past), most names come from cultures (cultures belies human cultures in the human-centric verbiage most are prone to use). Anything that I would call my child is distinctly human in its nature whether that nod to human expression is from the horn of Africa, the icy planes of Norway, or the plains of America and everywhere in between. Seeing as how we are all human, I don’t understand what makes a name “weird” (bully fodder) and “normal” (acceptable).
The fact that any name outside of the top 100 English monikers in a vast but relatively small portion of the world and the millions of beautiful names in it, would be met with hostility makes me suspect of the suggester’s inner dialogue. That is to say differently, if you’re suggesting that my choice in a name is bully fodder and strange, then can’t I suggest to you that you are a close minded nationalist? Are you such a xenophile that you can’t stand the idea of naming outside your country of origin or your race? Why is it that because someone is Mexican or vaguely Irish or Italian or hillbilly white that all of a sudden all of those cultural monikers are appropriate but if you choose something Eastern European, everyone looks at you like What the Fuck Are You Smoking?
If I weren’t Mexican but wanted to name my son Jose, it’d be weird; but if my son is Mexican and I want to name him Jose it’s totally cool? I don’t see how Juan is any different than Radu when you get right down to it. I don’t see how Conan is any different than Bjorn and I don’t see how River is any different than Fjord. Oh but how about Michelangelo or Michael? How about anything from the bible? How about naming after one of the Beatles listed off in order of the suggester’s preference? How about after your grandpa, uncle, brother, sister, anyone that’s not from a weird culture we don’t like thinking about because you’re American and that’s just weird to name outside the melting pot? I’m pretty sure there’s some subtle racism there. I’m pretty sure that subtle racism is bullshit and I’m definitely sure that if I hear a cool name from anywhere in the world, I’m going to name my kid that if it seems like a good fit. Even if I were naming my child something actually weird (Party Boy?) does it really matter? Let’s just say I’m a financially unsuccessful celebrity naming children and it takes all mothering kinds.
And just for the record, I think that naming your kid something unapologetically horrible and weird might actually deter bullying. How can you be named something so ridiculously weird? Are your parents hippies? What is your mom like? I don’t get it... The amusement and fascination might actually inspire kids to befriend the named-less-fortunate instead of pick their soul apart like a pack of hungry wolves on Bambi’s mom. No, I don’t really believe that what you name your kid will help them or hurt them because children already have unique identities they’re born with. Whatever I choose as a name for this child is just a name that doesn’t determine anything about their personality or behavior. If they’re destined to be bullied they could be named God and it’s still going to happen because that’s just who they are. They are a person that lives by their own rules in a way that feel threatening to others. You can’t change this and you can’t control this by what you name your child or don’t name them. It is so much deeper than that.
A walk down memory lane if you will: I, a completely “normal” kid who just happened to piss off large swaths of my peers from kindergarten to senior year of high school, remember being ridiculed unrelentingly in 5th grade while this totally fucked up weird kid who picked the tartar off his teeth and would threaten to wipe it on anyone who walked too close to him while drawing pictures of me, particularly, and other classmates being impaled by weapons or eaten by all manner of brutal fictional creatures managed to fly under the bully radar. Fair? I think not. My name is in the top 20 most popular of the decade when I was born and so was this kid’s. Does it make a difference? Nope. I’m unique, normal and threaten the foundation of insecurity that others feel they need to maintain by picking on me. That kid was freaky weird and no one wanted to say anything to him for fear of being smeared with teeth goo and mauled by T-Rex on paper. Kids and psychopaths will be just that regardless of what they’re named.
So whatever I choose as a name for these tiny people I birth is strictly based off of the societal convention that parents must choose an identity for their offspring like they’re some sort of possession. But children aren’t possessions any more than they can be “controlled” to do what you please. You can ask, you can demand, you can do a lot of things but you are attempting to coerce an individual to your will. Good luck. That’s why parents spank, time out, time in or check blogs and read parenting mags daily to get advice on how to deal with the fact that they have no control over a person they were raised to think they were going to have control over. This same mentality applies to bullies. You can’t control your own child so why assume that you’ll control hypothetical future children of other uterine expulsion and familial background by naming your offspring something seemingly inoffensive? This is a person that has a personality unique to them and all the names in the world will only identify them (like a social security number) not define them.
So I say, why would I try to piss a name all over this autonomous individual that is simply here for my guidance and knowledge based off of a lifetime of experience as if this is the most important part of my child’s existence? I don’t see the point. I choose a name that has meaning and will get them through their life knowing that:
- I considered them as I was able to
- at the time I was supposed to name them
- within the confines of my existence and mentality when that happened.
You were named this because of these reasons and I respect your right to choose a name more befitting to you (Jello Biafra?) or keep the one I chose for you under pressure to “name” you and get you certified and registered with the state and government (sorry about that by the way). You, dear child, are many things of which a name is only one small part.
Are you any less nourished by a piece of food despite what you call it? There are many names for the same things the world over, but it doesn’t matter what you call it, it is the same thing no matter where you go. You are the same person no matter where you are– your name is only the easiest way to direct your attention, to refer to you as the entirety of your being. People do you a favor by challenging your name with mispronunciations, manipulations, and mispellings by showing you all the different misperceptions in the world. They test you on your attachment to your name or to any moniker, really. You learn that it is not what you are called but who you are. You learn that it doesn’t really matter if people don’t pronounce or spell your name correctly because that doesn’t change who you are or who these people come to know you as. Your name is only part of a much larger piece of an identity that you cultivate by allowing room for movement within the narrow paradigm set forth by a name and identity that someone else has picked for you whether in love or otherwise.
And whether that name is “normal” or “weird” or the source of amazement and fascination or ridicule, I want my kids to know if your name does not suit you, you should feel free to embrace and wear a name that does. If I choose a weird and shitty name by their estimations, then hopefully they will be empowered enough to transcend my terrible naming abilities. A name that does not suit their identity is all the more reason for my child to become empowered by their ability to identify themselves sans my misguided influence. How can I teach my children this lesson when I am caught up and limiting myself by assuming that by truly speaking from your heart and following what feels right to you is the source of painful attention? This is a dangerous assumption and precedent that you should change who you are or want to be to accommodate others and the potential others that may disagree with who you are. I refuse to begin my child’s life under the premise that they must change who they are to accommodate the presumed whims of belligerent people.
Weird or normal name, you stand up for yourself.
Bully or no bully, we don’t accommodate real or imagined whims of belligerent assholes.
So what’s in a name?
Empowerment. Acknowledgment. Love. And Liberation.
That doesn’t have to be the name that I chose for my child, but that’s part of an identity that stands for what is right, just, and admirable about the world. Anything less is just not good enough for the most important people I will ever know.
Because your name doesn’t determine your ability to be ridiculed by assholes. But your name does determine whether or not you will learn to accept that or stand up for what is right. Because that person who gave you a name believed either you should accommodate yourself to those bent on acting unjustly, or that you should be whomever the fuck you please regardless of what anyone has to say on the matter. I choose to be the person teaching you to be whomever the fuck you please regardless of what anyone has to say on the matter because I know that accommodating bullies will never work and assuming that there is a way to appease such an abusive mentality is completely flawed. It’s never enough appeasement, so why sacrifice the most sacred thing in the world to a fictional belligerent?