Tuesday, February 26, 2013

What's in a Name?

Spelling errors aside, there is an anecdote here...
Each day there is at least one trending hash tag on Twitter that requires some introspection whether silly (#tweetapicofyourfriendf*****up) or reflective (#itishardformeto), and as modern teen, my son often joins in the online community high jinks. I, in turn, (as a conscientious modern parent) "creep" on his responses so I have a clue as to what's going on.

A few weeks ago the Twitter exchange above took place between he and I, following his response to the trending #TweetANameYouAlmostGot. As you cane see, he mentioned on oft-told story (more of an "exchange" really) wherein he had nearly be dubbed "Geronimo" by his mother and I. In truth this was more a product of my desires, and ultimately it was her decision (rightly) to name him as he was. Like many young couples, we had spent quite a bit of time looking through baby name books and writing down ideas before settling on some names that would both work, and perhaps more importantly, appease our families.

I am a believer that there is something to the eventual response to the question "What's in a name?" but not necessarily that it is the seed of some self-fulfilling prophesy that the bearer can't escape. If you think about it, if naming resulted in a one-hundred percent predictive quality, why would anyone continue to bestow three names upon their child, as nearly any time some nut job commits a horrific crime they begin referring to he or she by their formal three-name moniker?

So, where did the idea of "Geronimo" come from? How was it that my son almost ended up with that as his name? As with many things in life, it all started with a poem...

Lifted from Public Radio's Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keiller website.
Since my days as an English major back in undergraduate school, Gary Snyder has been a favorite poet of mine. When I first came across this poem, it occurred to me what a great name Geronimo would be for a child, especially a son. Beyond the historical strength of the man, the tenderness and intimacy Snyder seems to imbue the name with, in describing his own son (at least as I interpreted the poem), seemed to result in a solid, strong, and sensitive name. Many years later, when my son's mother and I were planning for his birth, I suspect she humored me with even momentarily "agreeing" to it, I knew I had little chance in winning that "battle." In the end it wasn't about winning a fight, but about having a healthy baby anyway.

So even though we went with a slightly more traditional name (despite it not being so traditional in Upstate New York), his "nickname," Jack, proved to be one I had hoped for as well. Even if my son son did not get the reach name I had wanted, he has grown into a strong sensitive lad, so, what's in a name anyway?

Resources:
Remembering Geronimo on the 100th Anniversary of His Death by Gregory McNamee

2 comments:

jerryknaak said...

There is a lot in a name. My father wanted me to be known as Jerry, yet did not want to put that on the birth certificate. Hence Gerald. My middle name comes from my Uncle Edward, one of my grandfather's brothers. Dad did not want me saddled with being known as John Henry Knaak III. Being a "Junior" caused quite a few problems with documentation throughout his life. Funny, Jack was almost Geromino, and I was almost Jack.

Mister Scott said...

J-Rock, happy to say you were my 600th published comment! :)