I've been writing about parenting and family matters for, oh, a few years now and in the past year or two I've started to notice something new in the genre. It would appear that Hollywood celebrities with their Apples, Shilohs, Bear Blus and Sparrows are not the only ones giving their kids unusual names. No, not the only ones at all; regular old parents are following suit. At least the ones who write about their kids.
Most of the children in question seem to be quite young, or at any rate their names would imply such. I've seen monikers such as Chubby Cheeks, Jellybean, Baby Doll, Mr. Boy and Pumpkin -- and those are just the nice ones! Some parents seem to harbor mixed feelings towards their offspring and choose names that are a bit less flattering. We won't go there, however, in this essay. Even more mysterious to me are the kids who exist with only initials for names. D. Q. S. A. Get yourself a big family and you've got alphabet soup for breakfast, lunch and dinner!
Ok, so I actually do know what is going on here. Parents who write about their kids are trying to protect their privacy. While a 3-year-old is not going to be taunted about her mommy's essay on her drawn-out potty training, an older child might not appreciate having his difficulties with acne being broadcast via print and web. I can appreciate that. My kids are getting older, too, and may not want me sharing all their ups and downs.
Back when I started writing about my kids, my role model was the well-known writer, Catherine Newman, author of Waiting for Birdy (yeah, yeah, I know, another unusual name, but it is her daughter's real name). She uses her kids' real names in the book and also in the many, many articles and essays she has written over the years. I feel like I really know Birdy and her big brother, Ben, and have watched them grow up, albeit from a distance.
In the earlier days of mommy-lit, other parent writers used their kids' real names, or at least what sounded like real names. I guess none of us were as concerned about cyber-bullying, identity theft and the like as we all are now. I'm really not worried about any of that, but I think it's time to say goodbye to Katherine and Robert, at least in my writing.
I'm not going to replace them with names like Sugarpop or Frito Man, either. No, I'll just keep it sweet and simple. You'll be hearing about Laura and Joe from now on (those are their middle names). It's going to be a little bit odd for me, but in the long run I think it will be good. In a few more years, I'll want to write about their acne, braces or first dates without mortifying them to tears!