Now that all of America's children are officially back in school, I wanted to express my sympathy to their teachers. Teachers, if you're reading this, I'm sorry so many of you are being forced, once again, to indulge in parents' absurd requirements by having to recite and/or sound out their kids' yoonique names day in and day out for the next nine months. It used to be that only a few kids in each class had names that were spelled funny, pronounced awkwardly, or were totally made-up -- but those days are over now. Gone are the whispers teachers would exchange about That One Kid named Sir Danger or Merengue or Scooby Doo. Those names were minor, entertaining blips on attendance sheets, never dominating the other more "traditional" names and thus remaining amusing enough to ignore. Many of the unusual names weren't incomprehensible so much as they were slightly off-kilter. No one had to "figure out" that a kid's name was actually the name of a sports team spelled backwards. No one had to ask if Abcde was a typing error or a charming female moniker pronounced "Ab-si-dee." Parents were less concerned with their kids having "special" names that made them appear different than they were with giving their kids names that would help them succeed in life.
Today, a lot of parents seem to equate the two. The more yoonique a kid's name is, the more s/he'll stand out, and the higher the chances are that s/he'll succeed in life, or so the rationale goes. Parents that give their kids uncommon names aren't thinking about how those names will affect their children once they're fully formed adults with skills and education under their belts; they're primarily concerned with making sure their kids stand out when they're young and in school, still learning and competing with other children in their class. It's like a recipe for teachers to exist in a never-ending, bizarre, looped nightmare in which each day they're faced with the same daunting task of having to get through the attendance, and each year they're expected to learn a whole new roster. They're even expected to be able to tell Aidan apart from Ayden apart from Aidin. Those poor teachers.
It's not that yoonique names are hard to spot year 'round, but during back-to-school they're more noticeable, since virtually every parent on social media is posting first day of school photos and/or updating their friends on their kids' activities. 'Tis the season for people to suddenly realize that their cousin named her kids something asinine or chose to spell her kids' names by swapping out 'y's for 'i's and doubling up on consonants. During the months of August and September, anything is possible on Facebook. Or, posybble.
That's not to say that I think kids with odd names won't grow up to be successful; we all know that life is much more complex than that, and our names are just a small part of our identity. They don't determine anything, and they certainly shouldn't be used against us in job interviews or on online dating sites. And yet, they are. That's the thing I'm not sure all parents understand. Yes, it's wrong to judge someone for having a ludicrous name that s/he didn't pick out -- but I'm still questioning the parents who chose it, and that's what most teachers are doing, too. The same goes for HR managers and anyone else who's expected to make a value judgment without applying a subjective bias. Even pharmacists have to ask what the hell some parents were thinking after they spend long days filling prescriptions for people whose names sound like punchlines.
It used to be that parents would joke about naming their kids with puns, corporate jargon, or blatant references to popular culture, but now they actually do it. This is a sign of our decline as an intelligent species -- I'm sure of it -- because what other explanation can justify a person naming her daughter after a Disney princess with absolutely no irony??
It's the teachers who must treat the Snow Whites of the world as equals, as though their names don't reflect a certain moronic family lineage. Snow Whites are to be respected, say parents and school boards, and the teachers are the ones who must grit their teeth and ask if they're 'present' in class each day. Teachers not only have the colossal task of educating the youth, but they have to pretend to take their stupid names seriously, too, and all before 9AM. I hear from a lot of teachers (and nannies, daycare providers, babysitters, etc.), and I know they're as befuddled about terrible names as the rest of us are, even if they don't outwardly express it and try to remain professional. A sweet kindergarten teacher might look sincere as she leans in and says to a five-year-old, "Well, hello there, Nevaeh, nice to meet you!" with a grin, but what she's really thinking is, "Another 'heaven spelled backwards.' You trendy dumbfucks." Thankfully, there are a number of parents who share that sentiment, so teachers have some allies to commiserate with. Sometimes parents can't help but send me photos of their own kids' class rosters, because, well...Xzavion and MachKenzie, really?
Kinda makes you yearn for the days of "Taylor," huh? Here are some more examples of names that parents should've reconsidered, if only for the sake of their teachers.
1. The Roll Call Of The Future (And Present)
I don't know much about these screenshots except they were taken by a mom whose resistance to exploiting her child's classmates' first names was met with a fervent desire to mock them, and the end result was sending them to me. Since they're a little blurry, I'll list them out for you:
....and Hannah, because why not?
Behold, one particular (white, suburban) subset of popular names in the 2010s. I can't believe there's not a single Brayden in the bunch.
2. Time Is Fleeting And Also Your Kids Have Dumb Names
Okay, we all know about the Ai(y)d(d)a(e)(i)ns. So many freaking Aidan/Aiden/Aydans in the world today. We get it. But Anakin and Blaizen?? Whooooboy, hold onto your hats, folks, 'cuz Bryan's kids' names will take you for a ride. I wonder how many teachers get together after the beginning of the school year and play drinking games based on their attendance sheets. "Two shots for every kid named after a "Star Wars" character" is a guaranteed way to get sloshed. When I looked up 'Blaizen' on Babycenter, there is no meaning, origin, or popularity listed (the sign of a true original masterpiece of a name), but it *does* say, "Related names: Like Blaizen? What about..." and lists some great alternatives (if, say, you were looking for one, which Bryan clearly wasn't): Blayson, Blaze, Ryder, Kane, Camdin, Maazin, Blazen, Peirson, Brazyn, Pharon, Hazen, Poseidon.
All strong contenders.
3. When Parents Talk Shop And All You See Are Their Kids' Names
These parents are having a perfectly reasonable conversation about Art in school curriculums -- something for which I am also an advocate -- and yet all I took away from this exchange are the names "Allyx," "Ily," "Emi," and (of course) "Aidden." It's like a parody of a PTA meeting on Saturday Night Live. "Good luck! My precociously named child LOVES art class." This type of thread will never cease to entertain me.
4. Getting The Band Back Together For Pre-K
Exciting, huge, monumental day for two kids who friggin' ROCK! Or at least, their names do. I'm not trying to discourage anyone from naming their kid after their favorite mega-talented musicians, actors, or YouTube stars, but can't you picture the look on Hendrix and Zeplynn's teachers' faces during roll call? I assure you it's the same look they would have upon greeting students named Lennon, Ramone, Aretha, or Lady Gaga. Though I give their parents points for creating the femme version of "Zeppelin." Very clever.
5. Class List Confusion
Avalynn, Asyanna, Kareah, and even Mondae are all getting ignored here, because WTFFFF is the name "Threetwofive"?? Is that a real child's name? On a birth certificate? And if so, does he or she have some kind of nickname? I can make a sandwich in the time it takes me to say the name "Threetwofive."
These are outstanding guesses, but I'm afraid no one has considered is that Threetwofive could be short for Threetwofivefouronenineeight, at which point Threetwofive would be the obvious nickname. Either way, that name is going down in teacher attendance books history. Also, naming a kid Mondae is like playing a long game of psychological torture, because as the kid grows up, she'll realize that A) her name is a misspelled day of the week, and B) it's notoriously unpopular. Well-played, Mondae's parents. I assume your other kids names are just symbols. Besides, compared to Threetwofive, "Question Mark" has a nice ring to it.