My middle daughter and son-in-law are in the throes of choosing a name for their third son — my third grandchild — who is due in June. They’ve gone through the arduous task of settling on a first name for the baby. It took much deliberation and debate, plus a fair amount of disgruntlement that their eldest son, now 5, chose one of their favorite boy names for his Elf on the Shelf and it’s now impossible to consider that name without thinking of the spying Christmas character.
Alas, the first name has been selected, though. On to the second. My daughter recently shared with me the second name under primary consideration then admitted she’s not ready to commit because “it doesn’t roll off the tongue easily” when paired with the first name.
That, though, is why I like it. My reasoning is this: Consider how often any mother uses a child’s second name. Pretty much never unless said kid is in trouble. The full name — first, second, last — is blurted out in loud and rapid succession only when Mom has reached the end of her rope and yells at Junior to get to his room… or stop touching his brother… or to quit trying to flush the freakin’ poodle down the potty.
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Hence the beauty of a difficult to pronounce full name. If it doesn’t roll off the tongue easily, Mom must slow down and consider if it’s worth attempting the tongue twister just to get a kid to knock off some undesirable behavior. Seems far more effective than the counting-to-10 method of anger management.
Thing is, whether difficult to say or not, many parents choose to honor their elders by bestowing the name of Grandpa or Grandma on a little one. And it’s usually the middle name nowadays, as first names have become the preferred spot for expressing one’s creativity and ability to come up with the most difficult to spell version of the simplest names.
Hence, as a child hears that name of honor uttered only when he or she is in trouble, the grandparent’s name — and, ultimately, the image of that honored elder — is sullied to some degree for the child.
Which is one reason I’m grateful my daughter has only sons. My first grandson has my husband’s middle name; the second has their other grandfather’s middle name. There is no way in the world this third son will be saddled with Grandma’s name — my name — for his middle name.
Shew… no sullying of my name in the eyes of my beloved grandsons. Not that my daughter is a maniac of a mother who shouts and screams and spits their middle names at my grandsons. She’s simply like every mother and uses middle names only when upset.
That said, I have two other daughters. Two daughters who will eventually have children to name. I’m putting in my bid now that those daughters please not honor me by bedecking a babe with my name in the middle.
Now, if my name were chosen for a baby’s first name, I confess I’d be truly honored.
Unless, that is, the current practice of mangling monikers endures and the poor kid must forever grapple with spelling — and explaining — an idiotic name like LeeSahh.
Lisa is a Colorado-based freelance writer. She publishes the Grandma's Briefs website, where she shares bits on life's second act and strives to smash the outdated "grandma" stereotype. Lisa has been married to the same man forever; together they have three adult daughters, one son-in-law and three adorable grandsons — children of the middle daughter and her husband. Lisa is easy to find online as she's known as GrandmasBriefs wherever she goes: Twitter (@grandmasbriefs), Facebook, Google+ and elsewhere.