Let's talk about names. Not like name-calling, but given names. Or nicknames. Just what it is that you go by. Or more specifically, what it is that you call your children. What it is that you write on their birth certificate.
I grew up in a classroom full of Jakes, Matthews, Emilys and Sarahs. And each person was incredibly unique and gifted in their own way. Even with names like Michael, which has been a top name for decades now.
It seems there is this new trend called "I want my baby to be a unique human being because of their name."
I've heard some very unique names in my time. Captain. Cherish. Ajax. Linux. And you look at those names and maybe scratch your head but you can read them.
And then there's the names like Aadhen. Aarieyhanna. Dafydd. Zoi.
I'm not the name police. I cannot tell you what to name your child. That is your right. But let's pretend for a second that I am the name police.
Or, fix that. I am the pronunciation police. And I feel like I can take that role because I've got the job of teaching children how certain letters can combine in certain ways to make certain sounds. It's called being a teacher. And I'm gonna issue you a citation right now. A citation to every parent who loves these invented spellings.
They don't make sense. Do you know how hard it is in the first place to teach a child that strange symbols can turn into strange sounds? And then we have to teach them that you can combine them in different ways to make different sounds! "T" sounds like "Tuh" except when you put an "h" on the end and then it sounds like "Thhhhhhhh". Ok. That's weird enough already. But it's normal, because you see that everywhere. We live in a country where it has been well established in our language that "Th" makes an unusual and unexpected sounds.
Or like "O" sounds big and round unless you put an "i" or "y" on the end and then it kinda sounds like the sound you make when you read a name that is spelled horrifically. Oi vey indeed.
And we teach children that "e" makes the "eh" sound unless it's accompanied by another "e" and then it sounds like the "e" got stretched out. "Eeeeee". Yes children. You read the letters as a whole. You don't read them individually.
Now, coming from a preschool perspective. Preschool is much more than daycare or baby sitting, by the way. Preschool is focused on education through play. Children are EXCITED to learn all these strange things. Despite how impossible it may seem, hopefully in about 5 years, they're gonna be devouring the Harry Potter series for the first time. And that is a beautiful thing. But the first thing a child wants to learn to read and spell is their own name.
That is the FIRST thing we teach a child to read and spell.
And it is amazing when a little 2 year old is sitting there singing the letters of her name in a song, saying "That spells _______!" It is beautiful.
Teaching a name has even more valuable tools. Let's look at cute little Alex for a second. First, Alex learns to spell his/her name. Forwards and backwards, he/she can spell it. And then he/she learns to write it. Sometimes this goes along at the same time as the first one, but not always.
And then we have a valuable teaching opportunity.
"Alex, do you see that tall pointy letter at the first of your name? A? That letter makes the "Ah!" sound! The sound you make when you are surprised! Can you think of other words that have the "Ah!" sound?"
Thus, cute little Alex looks at his/her name and begins to recognize the patterns found in his name that occur in other words. His name is the bridge that teaches him how to read other words.
Let's try this again with Aadhen. A name, by the way, which reads like "Ay-den". Commonly spelled like Aiden or Ayden until some jerk parent thought that the only way their child stood a chance of being special in this world is if they were able to destroy the English language a little bit more.
"Aadhen, do you see that tall pointy letter at the first of your name? A? That letter... well... I guess in this case, that letter makes the "Ay!" sound! The sound you make when you're calling to a friend! Can you think of other words that have the "Ay!" sound?"
And thus, cute little Aadhen looks at his name, hears the Ay sound, and imagines words that also have the Ay sound. Like Ape. And Hey. And Charades. And Cape. But Aadhen is confused out of his freaking mind because no where in the dictionary of "Words That Normal English Speaking People Use Every Day" does the double "A" pattern occur, let alone make the "Ay" sound. Further more, that pattern occurs nowhere at ALL, EVER in the dictionary of "Words That Young, Impressionable, Learning-How-To-Read Children Use Every Day."
Think about how incredible it is to teach a child how to read.
And think about how much you read in any given day.
Reading is VERY IMPORTANT.
Reading is so much more important than your little Schaerleighey being the most unique and despised by substitute teachers in the whole class.
And when you name your child these monstrosities, it not only destroys a valuable learning tool, but it destroys the LITTLE semblance of predictable patterns that we have remaining in English.
So do the language a favor. Pick a different name.
If you're afraid of your child being lost in a sea of Jacobs, maybe pick one of these.
And if you want your precious button child to really be in-tune and familiar with the dictionary
A good rule of thumb that I like to go by is imagining what I want my child to be when they grow up. And you know what that is? Anything they want.
If they want to be a doctor, they can do it.
If they want to be a dancer, they can do it.
If they want to style hair, they can do it.
If they want to build rockets, they can do it.
If they want to send bad guys to jail in court, they can do it.
And this is a big one I think of...
If they want to be president, they can do it.
Let's not be that one weird country that has the prestigious President Merzaydee Erickson.
Because pretty sure other countries would go to war on us just because of that name.