Saturday, March 25, 2017

kids-with-bizarre-non-names-as-given-names-who mysteriously-grow-up-to-be-assholes syndrome

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Next week I get to go into a home of one of our patients, observe him,  devise a plan to help his parents deal with his most challenging behaviors, and spend part of two days helping them to implement it. Someone else from the office will follow up with the family the following week. I haven't met the child yet, but chance are that I'll like him more than I liked the twelve-year-old boy who grabbed my arm on Thursday because I wouldn't fix the broken video game in our waiting room.

I don't need to like the child, though. I need merely to be professional and to have a desire to help him. Teachers and other professionals sometimes beat themselves up over not liking some children in their charge. A person cannot necessarily control whether or not  he or she likes a particular child. A person can control how he or she acts toward the child, though.  It is the professional's duty to treat the child fairly and even to keep in mind that a person's view as to what is fair to the child may be skewed if the person does not like the child. A person has to try harder when working with a child of whom he or she is not particularly fond.

I've reached a conclusion in observing children in the pediatric neurology office and also while watching Supernanny. I decided to watch episodes of Supernanny on Youtube so that the behavior of the real-life child with whom I must work next week will seem less shocking to me by comparison.  The conclusion that I've reached, which is surely a bit of a broad generalization but at the same time, I suspect, something that is generally true, is that people who give their children highly unconventional names, as in made-up names that rarely make it onto lists of actual names (or even if the names do make it onto name lists, make it there only by virtue of a celebrity child having been given the name, which inspired commoners to use the name as well, granting the non-name a place on a list of actual names) more often than not have children who are not inclined to play by society's rules. The reasons for this are probably as varied as the bizarre non-names themselves, but I'm willing to name two of the most common factors in the kids-with-bizarre-non-names-as-given-names-who mysteriously-grow-up-to-be-assholes syndrome: A) Children with bizarre names are angry about having been given bizarre names that are not real names. This is particularly true if they're boys. I suspect that boys are for some reason a bit meaner to other boys who have strange names. Perhaps conformity is a bigger deal among males as well. In general, girls are typically the gender that learns the art of psychological terrorism with amazing ease, but for some reason girls with highly unusual names fare better than boys with odd names. Years of research back this up. B) (and I believe this to be  the dominant factor) Parents who give their children, particularly their sons, names that are not actually names, often view their children as being highly original and therefore often exempt in terms of the expectation of adhering to norms. They want their children to be different, and they often consider their children to be just a bit more special and more entitled than is than the average child. The same force that motivated the parent to give the child a bizarre name that is not an actual name is at work in influencing the parent not to force too much of society's baggage onto his or her child, because the child is, for want of a better word, just too special for such baggage.

Regardless of whether my factors are at work in the non-conformity of a given child, teachers will tell you that the boys named Wild, River, Royalty, Warlord, Champion, Maverick, Innocent, and Touche' (THAT one looks and sounds a bit too much like douche to me) will be children who think they do not have to follow classroom or school rules. It would happen regardless of how the parents felt about the child having such an entitled attitude, but in most cases, the parents have given tacit approval to the child's attitude.

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9 comments:

  1. Interesting theory. I share my name with many, many other people born in the 1970s. I used to dream of having an interesting name. I was a hellion, though, so maybe that wouldn't have been a good idea.

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    1. Your name was an extremely popular one in the U.S. My mom said it got part of its popularity from a commercial, maybe about diapers but she's not sure. Here's a link to the song. I can't find the commercia. The baby boy version was supposedly Christopher Michael, which became a very popular boy's name. Were the commercials still around when you were a kid?

      I was usually the only Alexis in my class, but the name was common enough that I didn't have to spell it out. I suppose it would be a pain to have a name that was so popular that when your name was called in any setting, at least five heads turned in the direction of the person calling it. I still think it's probably better than being named Windsong or Aurelia Borealis.

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    2. UPDATE: My mom said Christopher Michael and Jenny Rebecca were Gerber commercials. She said that "Jenny Rebecca" was an actual song recorded by Barbra Streisand earlier and that Gerber's ad people made up the "Christopher Michael" part. I googled it, and lots of people apparently named their daughters "Jennifer Rebecca" because of the song "Jenny Rebecca." I personally don't think Rebecca goes well as a middle name for the first name Jennifer (it sounds OK with Jenny), but it's not my problem as long as I don't have to live with the name myself. It's interesting, though, how easily people are influenced by the media. All it takes is a commercial or a soap opera with a particular name and BOING! people are naming their kids after it.

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    3. My sister's name is Rebecca (Becky). But I think she was named after my great grandmother. I'm not sure why my mom named me Jennifer (Jenny). She said she liked the name, but didn't realize how ridiculously popular it was in 1972. At least I have an unusual middle name.

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    4. Jenny and Jennifer are very pretty names. I'm surprised they didn't become popular before they did. I think there's something to be said for picking a really nice name. And sometimes a name goes viral something like two seconds after a parent gives the name to a child.

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  2. Never thought much about it, but I think you have a valid point. Sometimes I have been referred to as "Chaos" by my boss. It's almost a badge of honor. Almost.

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    1. Yeah. If your parents had actually named you that, what might it have caused you to become. Fortunately we'll never know, because they were not stupid or self-indulgent enough to put that name on your birth certificate. I think it really comes down to self-indulgence: weird parents indulge themselves and their own foolish impulses by saddling their kids with ridiculous names for the duration of the kids' lives or until the kids have enough disposable income to do something about it legally.

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  3. A friend who taught emotionally/behsviorally disturbed kids had the misfortune to have a student named La-a. She dished out a lot of scorn and verbal abuse to anyone who didn't guess that her name was pronounced Ladasha.

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    1. Wow. Heaven forbid that anyone would not figure that one out right away.

      My mom was a school psychologist at a school with a third-grader named Kelsey except that her name was spelled "Celsea." The kid, who had some ADHD issues, was on an IEP, which was the reason my mom had to deal with her. The kid would go postal when anyone mispronounced her name, not just being angry but thoroughly demeaning any substitute teacher who dared to mispronounce it. Her teacher that year developed pancreatitis and was absent frequently, necessitating many substitute teachers. The regular teacher tried to leave a warning note about the kid's name and the correct pronunciation, but sometimes the sub would not see the note. My mom eventually took the kid into her office, did a review lesson regarding when the letter c should be pronounced /k/ and when it should be pronounced /s/. She told the child point blank that the spelling and pronunciation of her name were not in accordance with the standard rules of phonics, that it would probably always be mispronounced by anyone seeing it for the first time, that telling people who mispronounced it that they were stupid was wrong, that she would face consequences for doing so at school, and that if it bothered the girl so much, she should talk to her parents about changing the spelling of her name to something that made phonetic sense. The parents were angry, but the child's reaction to her name being pronounced phonetically was not something with which substitute teachers should have had to contend.

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