Friday, January 27, 2012

Naming Your Child (for Dummies)

Because you’re out there, you know you are.  I write this to outrage every last one of you.  Let’s rumble.

1.     Pretend to be a slack-jawed telemarketer that subsists on Red Bull, Skittles and weed.  You have a brother named Darryl.  I mean, really method-act, here.  You’ve been up since 4am for no apparent reason.  You drive a yellow Toyota Celica with one of those Calvin (urinating on something) stickers.  It’s now 8:15pm.  Can you pronounce the proposed name on the first (okay, second) try?  No?

2.    Read variations of the full name aloud, very clearly, like you’re speaking into a large PA system.  It doesn't matter that they'll go by “Pinky.”  The teacher/ drill instructor/prison guard/college president will call out “Cletus Alfonzo Smithfield.”

3.    Is the name connected, in any way, with a book/film/anime/toy franchise?  Kashyyyk Obi-Wan Jones-Miller is OUT.  Don’t be that parent.  You should be dragged into the street and shot if you have children named Bella, Frodo or Hermione.  (Shot after you sign paperwork legally changing their names.)  Honest coincidences, though rare, are excusable.  Unfortunate, but excusable.

4.    Superfluous letters are OUT, as are arbitrary letter substitutes, especially subbing “Y” for just about any vowel sound.  This “MycKynzyey" nonsense is what we’re talking about.  Use letters sparingly and with economy.

Listen to me.  When you (brilliantly!) spell a "traditional" name in a freaky way, you’re not being clever.  No, what you're being is a total chicken.  Like, um, we want to be, like traditional… but like we’re scared of being like the SAME!  Like, sameness is totally the WORST.

When you – let’s face it – pull a name from thin air to “differentiate” your child (read, "mark for life"), you thumb your nose at the parade of civilization before you.  ‘Cause YOU’RE smartererer and more originalistical than the 100 billion people that have gone before.  Right, buster.  Riiiiiight.

5.    Generally, your child should have no grounds for a civil suit (and importantly, monetary damages) relating to their given name.  Bonus points if you can pass off liability to a namesake (“Sue Uncle Festus, but leave us out of it.  He threatened to take us out of the will.”)

6.    The Google/Wikipedia Rule:  Be especially cautious when you’re using a famous name.  Cover of People or Us Weekly?  Out.  Cover of Time?  Maybe.  Cover of Scientific American?  Heck, why not?  Go for it.  Google every conceivable variation of the name.  Joe Stalin Cook or Sirhan Sirhan Thibodeaux might dust up a few hits.

If you’re using a historical name, make sure you know exactly what that historical figure is chiefly remembered for doing.  “Honey, says here this Benedict Arnold guy fought in the American Revolution for our side!”

7.    When naming a child, simply deferring to the father is… unwise.  By age 7, girls have their first thirteen children fully named.  Gentlemen, rolling in and issuing a name fiat after some unbelievably serious and contemplative thought during your morning jog is playing with fire.  Hot, raging, unquenchable, phosphorous-based fire.  And divorce proceedings.  Fellas, know your limitations and let “Patriot Brady Belichick Clarke” go.

Unless your frau’s choice is going to get your little boy killed in 2nd grade.   There’s that.

8.    Before picking an ethnic name, check your driver’s license (and a nearby mirror, if necessary) to ensure you actually belong to that ethnic group.  Thinking of a German name?  Great!  But if you can’t come up with your nearest German ancestor in 3 guesses, “Horst” is verboten.

9.    Last-names-as-first-names:  I can speak to this personally.  Mom’s maiden name for a first name?  Yep, that can work.  Absolutely.  But don't get cute.  Using U.S. presidential last names for girls’ first names is OUT.  Because, I mean, nobody in the world has thought of that before.  No, really.  You’re the first!  Don't give the world another Madison.

And using Irish last names for girls’ first names is OUT.  The Irish don’t even do this (see #8).

10.    A tricky one that I’ll call the “Boy Named Sue” Rule:  Be extremely careful with gender neutral names.  Like handling nitroglycerin in an Old West movie careful.  As someone who sports a name now popular in the preteen girl set, I'll say that it can work.  But you (meaning your child) accept certain risks.

No, you can’t use Ashley for a boy's name.  Yes, I know it’s in Gone with the Wind.

And now, an important word from Jack:

Monday, January 23, 2012

Sports and Hector's Ideal

Many parents struggle with sports, especially contact sports and their children's participation in them.  In that vein, I wanted to share this.  It's fairly lengthy, and 96.2% of you will find it overkill, but I highly recommend taking a look.

Rarely have I heard the case for sports made so well.  His premise, at least one of them,  is pretty interesting:
A major objective of [Plato's] great work, The Republic, is to show how for a civilization truly to thrive, it must find a way to make the drive for glory subordinate to reason.
He goes on basically to argue that it's healthy to engage the glory-seeking/ultra-competitive among us with sports, in lieu of war, etc.  Hector in The Iliad is presented as the ideal, as someone that can embody both the shockingly violent warrior, and the lovingly gentle husband and father.

This guy also presents a really novel critique that sports creates an absolute, well-known hierarchy based on ability.  This rings true with me - I knew precisely my rank on every team I've ever played on (it wasn't high).  Check this out:
A world that is so intensely hierarchical is a clear and energizing world, where meaning is available all the time. Who are you? I'm the best center in the league, or the second-best, or whatever. And I'm working to rise, or to stay on top, or whatever. One of the joys of sports lies in knowing who you are and where you are and what you have to do to ascend. Such knowledge is not available to most people in the world, and often they envy it, or they tap into it vicariously by becoming fans.
Things get sticky when you think of this ranking being the antithesis of Christianity.  We're to see all people as equals, or as Paul says in Philippians, as better than ourselves.  But ranking and outdoing bleeds into everyday life, to the detriment of our faith and of others themselves.

Oh, fair warning, the author makes a stupid (and inexplicable) left turn into homosexuality and how all male athletes are (of course!) secretly drawn to it.  Riiight.  I believe they call that "projection," big guy.

Exit quotation, emphasis mine:
The more ambitious you are, the more competitive you are, the less often you will experience serenity, a state in which, as Wordsworth says, "with an eye made quiet by the power of harmony, and the deep power of joy, we see into the life of things." The man who lives in that spirit, Schopenhauer tells us, is the one who, when he passes another on the street, says to himself, "That too is me." Those who whisper, however subliminally, "That is another" live in the purgatory of individual pride and desire.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Big Questions

I have less and less to say about more and more.

I guess the real problem is the daunting nature of boiling 400 million disparate things down into 500 or 1000 words.  Weekly.  And making it half sorta partially mostly readable.

I hinted at this last week, but the big thing that's come down the pike lately is The Asking of the Questions.  Jack's turned into sort of this cagey trial lawyer, where he'll ask and re-ask questions trying to trip you up.  He usually asks things to which he already knows the answer.  But sometimes, he asks some real doozies.

He woke Majestad out of a dead sleep during (the ironically named) Quiet Time the other day.

"Do we love Satan?  He's a bad guy." 

Easy one.  That's a big "no."  Yes, he is a bad guy.  The baddest guy.  Man, this parenting thing is easy.

As H.M. was trying to pull herself together, he adds, "What about Darth Vader?" 

Hmm.  Tricky.  I'm pretty sure we can completely ignore those joke prequels Lucas cranked out.  Jack's only seen the Vader in The Empire Strikes Back, and he seems unredeemable.  But then, we know that Vader pulled his bacon back out of the fire in Jedi...  Gonna go with "no" because Jack not seen Jedi yet.  Whew, these are getting harder.
"Where is heaven?"
Well, lessee.  We're not really to where we can discuss the metaphysical or the concept of a spiritual realm yet.  I'm going to go with the medieval thought that it was literally "up."  Like in the sky.  It's easy to show him plenty of art that depicts heaven in this way and it just makes things altogether easier.  (Make note to clarify nonliteral meaning of "up" in 2018.)

Obviously working from data gathered from previous answers, at dinner Jack asks, for family discussion:
"Does God love Satan?"
Aw, c'mon.  You gotta be kidding me.

I mean, let that one percolate for a minute.  I opened my mouth to answer, and then promptly shut it again.  I'm no theologian, but I've got passable answers about most issues in protestant Christian theology (and even some outside of that).  But I had to go dark on this one.

"Uh, I dunno, Jack.  Eat some more catfish."

The 2 minutes that followed were filled with me mouthing all sorts of things across the table to Majesty (Like originally?  But he's been/will be defeated, right?  Is he even technically redeemable now?  I know, no way, right?!).

Pictures.  Take note of Jack's first Starbucks (relax, it's cocoa) and his very first trip to the movie theater.  We did sort of a last hurrah Big Brother Day for him.  We went out for pancakes, and then saw Beauty and the Beast.  He was a little fidgety, made worst by the interminable previews.  I'm serious, they had to be pushing 40 minutes.  Anyway, the general idea of a teevee as big as your house really went over well.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Christmas Download & Thoughts on Sumo

Lots of ground to cover here in the new year, so we'll see how much we get to and where this thing goes.

Christmas played out pretty much as expected with gifts aplenty and glitter all over our clothes and all that jazz.  Majesty labeled it an "extravaganza" for what that's worth.  This sounds like I didn't think much of the whole thing, which is false - but I'm sufficiently removed from the event to now be dispassionate.  If you get me.

Jack cleaned up.  You're shocked.   He got a work bench.  Like with a neato drill (it reverses?!) and all sorts of kid-friendly wrenches and hammers and tools and stuff.  It's branded by the ad wizards at Home Depot.

And thus passes the toy kitchen, or at least this particular chapter in its existence.  It had fallen into disuse and so we stuffed it out into storage until the Next One can busy herself with imaginary confections and pots of unimaginably strong pretend coffee.

This is a good place to note another parenting maxim:  The Principal of Substitution.  You can't just take stuff away.  That leads to the Dark Side, bro.  Nah, you sub in something (of equal or greater value, restrictions may apply, see store for details) and voila! you've got yourself an equilibrium.  Which is all any honest parent really wants.  We don't want butterflies and unicorns.  Okay, maybe we did way back there in the ether somewhere, but the idealism's almost completely washed out now.  No, what we want is for the Iranians not to go nuclear and snuff anybody out.  We want (controlled) chaos.  Like so:
H.M.:  Where is he?
E.C.:  Who?  Oh.  Up in his room, I think.  I mean, I heard stomping.  Crashes.
H.M.:  Fine.  I don't care what he tears up in there.
And that's the way it goes.  You just foolishly pray for nonaggression.  Because most parents are Chamberlain at Munich, dude.  Anyway, so make sure you've got a replacement ready before you start yanking stuff pell-mell.  You'll thank me for it.  I digress.

Christmas.  We were talking about Christmas.

He got a castle.  About time, you say.  I know, every man needs his kingdom and all that.  The thing's complete with a drawbridge, trap door, knights,  horses, crossbows, saddles, quivers, you name it.  There's a royal family (really just a figurehead now that the place is a constitutional monarchy).  There's even a court jester.  The really silly part of this is that we haven't even opened a few of the castle-y type gifts.  Don't tell Jack that.  Enough became enough.  Gonna save those for bribes rewards.

He snagged a Lightning McQueen RC car, which I've become rather adept at driving through my living room at alarming speeds.  You should see the air I we can get when I we send it hurtling over the steps.  Jack chases Lightning around and cackles.  This is 100%, completely, only, strictly for Jack's entertainment.  I just drive because I have to, okay.  Back off.

He also got a big Buzz Lightyear (Space WANE-JURH!).  Buzz sometimes goes by the alias Buzz Aldrin, if you can believe that.  Semantics.  Lessee, the rest of the list was 2 (!) globes, several new games, books and CDs (current favorite:  Mr. Sonny and the chorale singing church songs, $0.00) and lots of books.  Skippyjon Jones is the current favorite.  It's also Jack's new nickname.  This week.

Majesty fished Jack's favorite thing about Christmas this year from him:  "Probably singing and playing the guitar with Daddy and Uncle Blake."  For the record, Uncle Blake sang and played (Jack's) guitar.  Jack and Daddy wailed off key.  It was more fun than it was pretty.

Jack has started asking some big questions.  Where is heaven?  What is the gospel?  I just hope we have some big answers.  If we run dry, we've got several of you on speed dial.

Jack is playing with a random girl at the park. They run into each other.  Both experience a gravitational emergency, and this follows:
Tasha:  Are you okay?
Jack:  I'm okay; I'm a boy... and an astronaut.
Tasha:  I'm in a rocketship.
Majesty's take:  "They may be made for each other."  Hmmm.
Darth Jack cometh.  Imagine the least scary, most comically deep threeyearold voice ever, and you'll have the voice down cold.

Jack pours out of his room one day during The Time of the Quietness.  He wakes Majestad up, of course.  The child is wearing seventeen shirts.  That's the number 17.  H.M. counted.  There were multiple pants/shorts in play, too.  I took one look at the pictures Majesty sent me and started reevaluating our full-fat dairy decision.  Oh, note the direction of said shirts.  Frontswards, backswards... he don't care.  Roll Tide.

We're now at 34 weeks with the Girliest Girly Girl.  Had a really nice dinner with all our buds this weekend to celebrate... I dunno.  Uncomfortableness.

Lastly.  Jack has apparently decided we've gotten too soft and aren't ready for the responsibility of a new baby.  He's probably 100% correct, too.  So he's begun waking us up in the dead middle of the night - I guess for practice - and cajoling whoever will have him to snuggle.  The odds aren't great with either of his options, let's face that.  I then have to escort him up to his place and stay with him for a minute.  Where I pass out yet again.  Anyway, when Majesty already wakes up 10 times per night to take care of her bidness in the john...  she's not impressed.

One can only hope he'll whip us into shape in time.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Hot Versus Pretty

I'll try to do an all-encompassing post that gets to the new year shortly.  Today is not that day.

In lieu of me rattling off something (arguably) entertaining, one article really struck me yesterday.  Keep in mind I'm grappling with how to approach parenting one of those crazy old girl feemale type folks.  But boy, er... girl this brief little story was enlightening.

Do parents enthusiastically encouraging their daughters to look "hot" ever think about the commoditization behind it?  I didn't think so, either.

I really like the premise, here:  pretty is the result of a balancing act between beauty and innocence (at all ages).  Let that one soak for a minute.

Original story link is first, with very good analysis second.  Enjoy.

Hot Air:  New Year’s Eve Night Out - Why What Women Wear Actually Matters

There's even a bit more analysis building on the original article here.