Friday, July 24, 2015

His Name Will Pass Spellcheck — I Promise

We're 99 percent sure we've got our next child's name figured out.

As discussed Wednesday, it won't be Morpheus — sorry if I made you believe otherwise, even sorrier if you didn't find it funny and sorry again to my mom who was hoping against hope for this awesome name.

So, what will the name be?

Well if you're looking for a reveal right now, sorry again. We're not telling anyone just yet, and here's an explanation why.

This happens. 
Neither Mrs. Blackwell nor I have ever been secretive types. I tend to share big news quickly and Mrs. Blackwell starts giddily distributing Christmas gifts in October because she can't wait.

So, this is about as big of a 180 as you'll ever see us take.

The fact is, our decision to withhold the name is not necessarily about us. To the extent that people are interested that you're having a kid, they're just as interested in what you'll name it.

First, they ask the gender and next, they ask the name.

When you tell someone you're having a boy or a girl they're happy for you, whether the baby's got a Y chromosome or not. And when you tell them the name of your child they're also happy for you — sometimes.

As I outlined yesterday, lots of people have lots of opinions on names. Some folks — opinionated blowhards like me mostly — believe that there should be parameters, if not codified rules, for naming a kid.

A Digression — A Couple of Arbitrary Rules for Naming Your Kid

- No naming your child after luxury cars or perfumes. Like sending your your kid to school wearing a top hat and monocle, this has the opposite of the intended effect.

- Rethink the apostrophe.

- Don't find a new spelling for an old proper noun. The 'U' in Jupiter is fine. No need to make it "Joopiter."

- Don't name your child after an impoverished African nation. Sierra? Fine. Leone? Also fine. Sierraleone? Not fine. Ditto for Ivorycoast. (And of course, people have used both those names.)

- Finally, in the immortal words of author Drew Magary, "Don't invent a name. Most inventions fail."

Alright, back on track. It's one thing to be an opinionated jerk person like me, but it's another matter entirely to be unable to suppress how you really feel about something.

Resist the temptation. It's not a person's name. 
If someone tells me they're naming their newborn Ransom or Subaru (again, yes, people did this) whatever goodwill and discipline I have won't trump my reflex to scream "Good lord, no!"

And what would Ransom or Subaru's parents think of me after this exchange.

The last time around, Mrs. Blackwell and I weren't shy about telling people the name and I ran into one situation where a woman couldn't hide her dismay at our choice. She looked at me like I was joking in fact.

Neither is this. 
In turn, I laughed. I really didn't care what her opinion was, nor do I now.

For her part, my sweet, loving wife might not be so forgiving.

Here, I'll defer to my wife who put it thusly: "If they don't like the name, it's not going to make me like the name less. It's going to make me like them less."

That right there folks, is some cold business.

Sweet as she is, Mrs. Blackwell does not play. And if you want to give her your thoughts on a baby name, you'd best be sporting a cool name yourself and God help you if your kid is named Happyness (spelling error included).

Above all, what I take from my research and discussions on names is that things get complicated and deeply emotional, very quickly.

So to answer that age old question "what's in a name?" My answer: more than I ever knew.

FOR YOUR ENJOYMENT
Here's some of the stranger names I ran across in researching names. Sources include NBC, the Social Security web site, Yahoo! News and the Associated Press.

Boys:
Jcelon, Hatch, Tuf, Xzaiden, Subaru Power, Kyndle, Vice

Girls:
Pemberley, Envie, Rarity, Snowy, Temprince, Lexus, Citron

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

We're Naming Our Son Morpheus

Yep, Morpheus.

What do you think?

Sweet name right?

Sure, there's the connection to the Matrix Trilogy, which might give one the impression we didn't give this decision much thought. On the contrary, those movies were released years ago and Morpheus still sounds cool. I've been thinking about this for a while and I still like this name.

It's different. It's unique. And, really, that's what we're going for here, right?
"What if I told you, Blackwell is a terrible name?"

For the rest of my son's life, every time he introduces himself, people will know that his parents have "different" or "unique" tastes. Everyone will think we're cool and it'll be awesome. Unless of course, you're my son.

From some of the names flying around these days it does seem that parents sometimes forget the fact that the kid actually has to, you know, live with the name they're given.

Is this the disconnect that leads one to name their son "Raider" or "Blaze?" Is this why some people take a perfectly good name and corrupt it with their own strange spelling. I'm looking at you "Mickinly" and "Payzley."

So to be clear, we're not naming our next son Morpheus (sorry Mom, I know you were holding out hope).

And we're not inventing a name ("Hi, I'm Wimberly,") or repurposing another word and making it a name ("Pleasure to meet you, I'm Cannon.") Those are real names by the way.

No, what Mrs. Blackwell and I are doing is wrapping up the final stages of naming our unborn son and trying our best to follow our hearts while simultaneously not bestowing a name that will make people wonder what the hell his parents were thinking.

Naturally, we have doubts about our choices. But, thanks to the epidemic of terrible baby names we find ourselves in, it's highly likely our choice won't be that bad — at least comparatively.

It's difficult to convey these thoughts without coming across as elitist, pompous, conceited or pretentious.

I hope I'm not any of these things and I know Mrs. Blackwell isn't. Ultimately the beauty of a name lies solely in the eye of its beholder. One person's John is another person's D'Brickashaw. There's no accounting for taste — or the perceived lack thereof.

That said, I think we can all agree that some names are outlandish and leave the vast majority of people feeling sorry for a kid. If acknowledging that makes me snooty, well, so be it. 


Now, maybe you just thought, "Wimberly! Now that sounds neat," or, "I've been on the hunt for a name with serious firepower. Cannon? Boom! We have a winner!"

If that happened well, I've insulted you. Wasn't my intent. Sorry. But there's got to be a line somewhere, some common point of reference, between Adam and Adolf Hitler doesn't there?

Last year in this country a total of five little newborn boys were dubbed "Billion." Someone else named their son "Daggar." Some parents saw fit to name their son "Sadman" while someone else named a baby girl "Lay."

If you're one of the people who named your kid Billion, Daggar, Sadman or Wimberly (Seriously, that's just Kimberly with a W? As in: "WHY do this to your daughter?") maybe you had a good reason.

Maybe you just liked the sound of the name. Perhaps you don't care about what this word might mean or the fact that it's a word you just made up.

Names can be very, very touchy business. Our philosophy, which I'll discuss a bit more Friday, is to pick a name that, at minimum, will never, ever serve as a disadvantage. That said, it's interesting to note that the most recent research suggests that name is not destiny.

Just ask the man named "Loser."

Friday, July 17, 2015

Saying Goodbye: Sometimes, It's Really Easy

In Wednesday's blog, I got a little misty.

If being a father has done nothing else, it's exposed me for the easily manipulated, overly sympathetic, bleeding heart that I am. I'm comfortable with this.

From this to "holy terror" in a flash. 
And part of the reason I'm comfortable with this can be explained by what follows below: a total recognition that toddlers, my son included, are not merely sweet, innocent little Smurfs, who just want to spend time with you basking in mutual affection.

They aren't merely miniature dispensers of love and devotion.

Sure they doddle around, wearing impossibly cute outfits, saying the cutest things imaginable, in the cutest voices imaginable. Then, in a flash, they turn on you and do the unimaginable.

To wit: recently my son was seated in the back seat of our car. We were at a stop sign when a fire truck, sirens blaring, screamed by us.

As it passed, my son exclaimed: "Fire truck! Daddy, to the rescue!"

I have no idea where he heard this (a theme that's been emerging with alarming frequency of late) but, his delivery, his tone and those words were magic, just funny and incredibly cute.

Great right? But, it wasn't a day earlier that I was talking him off a ledge because I had the nerve to offer him either a juice or chocolate milk for breakfast.

Daddy's sunglasses? Yep. The boy knows
what he's doing here.
One moment he's in my arms hugging me, then I suggest something to drink and he hits the switch. He's crying, flailing, contorting and, in the midst of this fit, he bonks me on the head — twice and hard.

I set him down on the ground because we "Don't hit Daddy," and he proceeds to stomp his feet before continuing this charade by rolling onto his back.

Of course it's not just the eternal juice-vs-chocolate milk question that sets him off.

It could be going to this park versus that park, or strawberry jam versus syrup on his waffles, or Gold Fish versus Teddy Grahams.

Sometimes, it's washing his hands after going to the potty. Other times, he's happy to wash his hands.

Logic is optional so there's no consistency as to what might set him off.

I'm sure doctors, child psychologists and other experts would tell you that this is merely the child expressing him or herself. For any number of logical explanations, the child is frustrated and unable to articulate this frustration and it's all perfectly normal.

Yes, yes, it's all perfectly normal. That'll make you feel better when you're standing in your kitchen at 7:15 a.m. with apple juice running down your leg and pooling on the floor because the placid child in your arms spontaneously turned into Lewis Black.

And it'll feel perfectly normal when it's 7:30 p.m. — a time when you're usually getting them ready for bed — and the kid hasn't eaten dinner and is showing no interest in doing so.

I'll assume that, if you're a parent you've encountered these scenarios or variations thereof. I'll further assume that on these occasions you were only too happy to drop that kid off at day care. And I'll assume again that, as you drove away, you turned up your stereo and thanked God that your kid was now someone else's problem, if only for a few hours.

When a kid freaks out, I like to believe that we're all human and all those sugar-soaked, cute moments and those tearful goodbyes, go out the window. You just need a break.  

Lewis Black. The boy's muse. 
In fairness to the boy, he's never been a regular freak out guy. It's always been a rarity and it's becoming rarer. As his vocabulary expands and his ability to articulate grows, he's throwing fewer fits. So I've been trying to adjust with him.

Just the other day, he voiced frustration when I offered him a Hershey's Kiss or a Dum Dum (that's a kind of sucker).

He stomped his foot and conveyed his displeasure. Borrowing a move from Mrs. Blackwell's playbook, I said nothing and shot him a death stare.

After a moment passed he calmed himself. Then, I dug into my playbook and added perspective to the situation.

"Son," I said flatly, "there are children starving in war-torn Somalia who would pry an AK-47 from a dead relative's hands and shoot another man for ONE Hershey's Kiss — you're being offered three."

At that moment the boy looked at me quizzically, then extended his hand, took the Hershey's Kiss and ran off to play in the other room.

It sure is great when you really reach them.