Thursday, November 19, 2009

What’s in a Name?

So, I’ve told you about the entry of our son James into the world and in that I wrote about how he was named. What I didn’t tell you at that stage was the undertaking that was given to My Sweet. In the umming and ahhhing process leading up to James’ arrival we had enjoyed the game that most expecting parents play, the one where you’re sitting in bed at the end of the day and you’re imaging what your life will be like when the new edition appears. And in that imagining is the ‘Name Game’. Our version of this game usually involved myself throwing up alternatives and My Sweet taking the role of the trap shooter, knocking them down with clinical precision. I set up some big targets to be sure, throwing out Hector, Manuel and Theo to test if she was really listening. Bang …. Bang …. Bang …. She was.

This game was played periodically over the months of My Sweet’s pregnancy. At times the name game was enjoyable, it brought us closer together as we wrote names on to a ‘possibles’ list or crossed them out, but at other times it felt like the impasse was akin to some of the Cold War negotiations between East and West. Thank goodness we had learned that we were having a boy because on occasion there were no acceptable boy names on the table; imagine if we were doing it for a girl too.

Eventually we worked our way down to a final two, James and Patrick. Both names had appeal as they were the sort of strong traditional names that we were looking for, both names featured in our family histories and both were solid names for a man. I was for James and My Sweet was for Patrick, in the end My Sweet, while holding our newly arrived and much anticipated cargo gave us James … with one condition. He was to be James, not Jim or Jimmy. And so I, with a great deal of difficulty and even with a contemplation to cross my fingers, agreed.

I had a chuckle when Father-in-law was introduced to his grandson and being old school he immediately referred to him as Jimmy. On occasion, I too have given it a bit of the old Jim or Jimmy, bumping my way through the annoyance that such reference creates, aware that I am treading a dangerous line close to breaking my promise. Jimmy James seems a more acceptable nickname, but from time to time I have to be careful not to catch the displeasure that this creates in the form of a good old ‘tisk tisk, that’s not his name’.

I know one thing though. And I can say it without needing to refer to any of the fine print relating to the condition laid down. If any of James’ friends choose to call him Jimmy, well I had nothing to do with it, and I might even secretly support it too.

But, I have made a promise and even though I’m not too sure about the hierarchy of promises, I’m fairly sure that the circumstances in which I gave mine would certainly rank with ‘On my mother’s life …’ or ‘so help me god …’. So there it is, we have a son named James and I am bound to my promise.

Post Script.

Since blogging and facebooking my experiences as a proud father, I have received comments suggesting that I cannot keep referring to James as ‘Baby James’ since he won’t always be a baby. I can see the logic in that. I can also see the formation of a nickname, like the reference to Baby John Burgess (a personal hero of mine) or Sweet Baby James from James Taylor’s song. So, I’m contemplating dropping the ‘Baby’ reference or replacing it with ‘Handsome’ because that he is…. What do you think?

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