"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet" -- William Shakespeare
Your baby's warm hands caressing your face, its rosebud lips pressed ever so softly up against your hardened cheek causing it to melt, even having the ability to settle its wailing cries are all wonderful shared moments loved by parents the world over, despite thinking that they are solely unique to them as parents of their own dear child. And, when it comes to naming one's new bundle of joy, your baby will always be sweet to you, with their name conveying an inimitable sense of individuality, regardless of whether the name selected is in the top ten most popular boys or girls' names year after year, or whether you've dusted off a name not heard of in common parlance for several centuries.
Parents are running out to bookstores and scouring the Internet in search of the ideal name to epitomize who they believe their child will become. John, Henry, Walter, and the like convey a sense of strength, a boy who will be bound to succeed at whatever he does, impervious to failure, looked up to by others. Margaret, Charlotte, Grace, and those names' peers lend a sense of gentility and intelligence to the daughter bearing such a moniker. Sometimes these names are chosen to honor a living or deceased loved one, adding a fifth James Jr. to a family's lineage, and other times, they represent nothing more than being a name well-liked by both parents after a long debate over what to name one's child.
However, I often sit and wonder, regardless of whether a parent chooses an expected customary name, or treks off the straight and narrow path opting for something more original, such as naming their baby Treble Clef because they were big Miles Davis fans, do these parents ever think about the long-term ramifications that the designated appellation will have on their child's future?
I'm not referring to whether a parent has thought through all of the nasty nicknames other children will make up for Deloris the Clitoris (hey, we all watched that Seinfeld episode) or Sherman (the words "spermin" and "vermin" come to mind based on taunts I heard being used as a child), or even if those children will be ordained for a life replete with "kick me" signs affixed to their backs. What concerns me is do these parents consider that in picking a certain name, they will have limited or predestined their child's professional prospects?
Take for example the parents who name their baby girl, wanting to match their daughter's saccharine nature with an apposite designation, choosing a name from the food and beverage industry. Do they ever stop and think that the chances of their daughter becoming a pre-eminent neurosurgeon or head of the World Bank are slim to none? "Paging Dr. Candy. Dr. Candy to the OR." I think not.
Sadly, those names are more likely to lead to a lifetime of walks of shame, twirling about on a stripper pole, marrying rich, or if they're really lucky and have some talent becoming a singer-cum-actress-cum-dancer, unless young Twizzler uses her noggin and legally changes her name to Jennifer or Martha. Maybe young Brandy or Tawny will be lucky and go on to medical or law school -- I'm no soothsayer, but the odds are stacked more in her favor to become a music video celebutante. Had the same parents opted for Roberta, Barbara or Nancy, they would have history behind them supporting their ability to become First Ladies, physicians, astronauts, journalists or even Broadway stars.
And, what of the fates of young Banjo, Apple, Pilot Inspektor, children of the celebrity set. What happens if Banjo has no musical talent and is tone deaf? Or, whether Pilot has a serious fear of flying? Or, if Apple is allergic to apples? Would the irony cause them anxiety and anguish? Or, worse, an anaphalctic allergic reaction? What of those children bearing monikers now associated with horrific acts because one bad apple in the bunch ruined it for everyone? Think of all of those poor, sweet, little Osamas running around the playground during recess. In the nickname association game, these young ones who will be thought of only as terrorists. Osama is the new Adolf.
All joking aside, as parents we have carte blanche to name our children whatever our hearts desire, for they are our children, but I think that in order to be fair to our progeny, we really should give deep thought as to whether we are setting up our kids for a life of difficulty when the world is already so cold. Literally, so cold - how many Polar Vortexes did we live through in 2014? The moral of the story is, think twice, and maybe even several times over before placing pen to paper or fingers to keyboard when completing baby's birth certificate, for their future happiness and well-being could very well be at stake. As for me, I'm thinking of going with Fauve for a girl and Bauhaus for a boy because I really want my kid to grow up to be an artist. But, definitely not Van Gogh because I want my kid to keep his or her ears.
© 2014. Naomi Elana Zener. All Rights Reserved.