“Mom, you know what I just realized? This is all your fault!” Words every mother longs to hear.
“Mom, you gave Trevor the name ‘Trevor Vaughn’. You gave him the initials T.V. It’s your fault he loves TV so much!”
The #childlawyer never misses a beat.
Trevor Vaughn does wake up asking for TV and does fall asleep declaring “today was not a best day” due to whatever unsatisfactory amount of screen time he had. Perhaps he has an inner wiring to enjoy the tube more than most. Or maybe he is just a five year old wanting to be entertained. Did we doom him to TV addiction with our naming (& initialing) rights?
Naming a child can be loads of fun. Thousands of options and combinations. A chance to continue a tradition, to honor with a namesake, to be creative, to assign a label that hopes or fits. But, pause and recognize the weight of the task. The name is the one thing you get to fully predict and plan for the child. The one thing that will go with them for their entire life. A slightly more consequential decision than a nursery theme or diaper brand. The name is literally the only thing in your control. And the task comes with a deadline. This is serious business.
Parents get an assortment of advice, have nicknames to consider, have a last name to factor in (e.g. I, sadly, couldn’t name my daughter “Lucy”) or meet bratty kids bearing their faved names.
We came into “expecting” with a list we’d been working on for years. Advice advised, considerations considered and factors factored. As each deadline approached, names were decided and deemed. Nothing wrong with their “almost were” names. Just names that weren’t theirs. Joshua William became Jack Fielder, Tyler Grant became Trevor Vaughn and Piper Alexandra became Sydney Reese. Final Answers.
I don’t know if my kids will always like their names. Jack is technically Jacob, which no one ever sees coming. September teachers call him Jacob and nurses call him Jake. But he has been Jack since day one.
For a year, he consistently introduced himself as Sparky, a self-appointed nickname. He was three.
We will see if their given names stick.
Some of us have names we love.
Some of us have ones we run from. Like painful nicknames. Forget that whole business about sticks and stones. Names can hurt. They might tell a story we don’t like or one that isn’t true. They can leave an imprint.
But they don’t have to.
I can bear a name, a nickname or label. I can identify with it. I can flaunt it. I can accessorize it. I can grow into it. I can live up to it. I can live with it. I can laugh it off. I can set out to disprove it. I can reject it. I can shorten it, adjust it or change it altogether.
God has a history of renaming people. He often renames at significant points on journeys. People like Abram, Sarai, Jacob, Saul and Simon. He gave and gives names to be grown into, dreamed into, hoped into, faithed into.
He gives me many names, beautiful names.
He names me Chosen. He names me Friend. He names me Daughter. He names me Treasured Possession. He names me Blessed. He names me Redeemed. He names me Beloved.
Nice names, but just letters on a page unless I look to them, lean into them, live as them. The power of a name belongs not to the name, but to the named.
Someone recently put it this way:
“To mature is to grow up from the names others give us and hold on to the names God gives us and we give ourselves – names that are strong and true.”
It’s easy for me to show the world my given name. I write it, sign it, type it without even thinking. Childhood nicknames, I’ve left behind. Affectionate nicknames bring me a smile. The names God has given me, I’m growing into. Seeking to mindfully accept, understand and live out. Defining those names with how I decide to live. Not being defined by arbitrary or inaccurate names.
As for the #childlawyer and his brother, the family T.V., I might just rename them #childchef and Brandon Oliver Owen Kyle (the multiple middle names thing is in these days, anyway) in hopes of more profitable days.