August 16, 2016-Prompt-“Never Name Your Child______!

I have four children, three biological, one adopted.

Each of them calls me by a different name. I don’t know how it happened, it just happened. Some of the names stuck, others went through numerous permutations, some lasting a decade, others lasting only a week or two. So at various times I went through being addressed as Daddy, Dad, Lloyd (from the adopted one), Pop, Pops, Father, Father-In-Law (several of the children’s partners had difficulty calling me anything that implied a biological relationship). These, of course, are aside from other less endearing names such as nitwit, bonehead, peabrain, and other charming appellations of similar ilk (I paid little attention to all this, knowing that someday they would all be out there in the cruel world attempting to earn their own livings and paying even less attention to me than they did while growing up.

In the twenty years or so that these nominal attributions took place, they never did settle upon one standard name for me that they could all use at the same time. Now that they’re in their forties, three of them married, one with multitudes of children, they have finally agreed, completely by accident, on a universally acceptable name for their father.

It began with my attempt to address simple email messages to two or three of them at a time, or even more confusing, to several children and spouses at the same time. So signatures on anniversary cards and email messages began to look like, “Love, Daddy and Lloyd (aka Father-In-Law).” Or, “Merry Xmas, Your Non-biological Father, aka, your favorite Bonehead.”

After a few years of these multiple assignations, I shortened the closings strings to endearments such as, “Love, Pop, Pops, Daddy, Dad, Chief Cook, Pretentious Father-In-Law, Etc.” And, “ Love, Daddy, Dad, Lloyd, Father to one,  Father-In-Law, Perhaps, to the other, Etc.” And it didn’t take long for the signature block to migrate to short forms such as “Love, Daddy (aka, Pops). Etc.”

Then a very strange thing happened. I began getting email messages addressed to, “Dear Etcetera;”. And it caught on like a dust storm in the desert. Sentences would creep into inter-child communications such as, “Got a note from Etcetera yesterday.” And, “Hey guys, hope you haven’t forgotten that it’s Etcetera’s birthday next week.”

It only took a matter of a month or two before there was full agreement. My final, universally acceptable name from all my children, their children and their partners of various origins and genders, for each and every one of them to refer to me as Etcetera.

  1. I can live with that. Especially since I started the whole damned thing (in about five different dimensions — think about it).

But I can’t help but think, every once in a while, that the underlying reason for this universal agreement was payback for the real names that I had a part in giving them when they were, perhaps, something between three days and three weeks sold. Admittedly, it took a long time, but payback had finally arrived. They seem very satisfied in all their smugness.

Of course, I love the whole lot of them dearly, but I occasionally wonder what they would think If they only knew what I would name them if I had it to do all over again.

Lloyd Rain

*****

Never name your child Matilda.

Her mother named her after a long deceased beloved relative.  Unbeknownst to mother was the fact that Great Aunt Matilda hated her name.  So much so that she said she would come back and haunt whoever had the gall to reuse her name.

So this poor innocent babe got the great auntie’s name.  She had to go through life stuck with the name “Matilda”.  All her friends used to tease her and call her “That crazy Waltz kid”.

Her ghostly aunt haunted her mother.  On Halloween, it was especially bad.  All mother could hear all that day was the tune “Waltzing Matilda”.  No matter what she did on October 31 she could not get that song out of her mind.  The worst part was that she even heard it in Aunties crackly, old, wavering voice.

Auntie Matilda got her revenge.  Never in that family was another child ever named Matilda.

Valerie Cook

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