Don't Wear it Out

I'm cranky. We had a lovely visit with family on the week-end and went out to see the great-grandparents on Monday (hooky-playing kids and all) which was wonderful, but I'm still coughing like a tubercular opera heroine and not sleeping well and hopped up on inhaled substances (prescribed) and generally feeling less than stellar. I didn't go into the school library on Tuesday which is my usual day so I could clean up my house and self-medicate in peace, but I didn't feel that much better when I went in today. Today was also the day that all the classes that missed their library period on Monday and Tuesday because of a software upgrade and a spontaneous Chinese delegation, so it was fortunate (for the library tech) that I was there since we were slammed with two classes at once for most of the day. A school library overflowing with spring-feverish first-to-sixth graders is not the place to be when you're not feeling top-notch. I was snappish. I was curt and snippy. Less than patient. Maybe even slightly persnickety. Coincidentally, a large number of the children were slow, dense and puddinglike (this is objective fact and has NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with my mood). We were just not a good match.

I just read Lynn's post about the meaning of two of her kids' names, which reminded me of the first time she told me her children's names, which reminded me of a time when I wasn't a child-hating persnickety sourpuss, so I thought I'd share it, without revealing the actual names, since she doesn't post pictures of her kids or name them on her blog, because unlike me she actually CARES about protecting her children from cyber-predators and people like Tracy at Crazy Town (who really believes she had all those kids herself and is still that thin?). Anyway, when I asked what her kids' real names were she said 'oh, this might be hard for you.' I didn't understand what she meant until she said them and I realized she meant that her husband is not Caucasian and the kids have names from his culture, which means they're not named Billy, Cindy and Jennifer and she thought I might find the names difficult to pronounce/spell/comprehend easily. This was funny, but I never really got to explain why because then we had to start trying to answer fiendishly difficult trivia questions.

We live in a very multicultural neighbourhood, and my kids' school is the very model of the cultural mosaic. One set of twins in Angus's JK class were named Becky and Susan, the other set were named Anwar and Ismail. Names I had never heard before which I now know include Chirag, Shulini, Shruthi, Chehak and Yeabsara. We know three Puneets. Eve had one classmate with the same name as one of Lynn's kids, whose brother has the same name as another of Lynn's kids. Angus's name was at the top of the class telephone list since my husband's last name starts with A. Right under him was another child with the same last name. Her first name was Funmilayo. Before school started, the teachers speculated on whether they were twins. Twins named Angus and Funmilayo -- wouldn't that be insanely cool? .

One day when I was volunteering in Eve's JK class, the teacher had the kids sit around in a circle and then they all had to take turns guessing letters for whoever was going to do the calendar that day. When they were done, the name spelled out on the card was Nedrar. I was looking around for Nedrar to come up and do the calendar when all the kids burst out laughing and eventually rearranged the letters to spell 'Darren'. I'm sitting there thinking 'oh, you're fine with Sanskrooni, but Nedrar is funny?'

I really like this. Where I grew up classroom populations were a lot more monochromatic. The weirdest named kid was probably my friend Betty Jo. Eve has been to birthday parties where she gets to dress up in saris and get mehndi tattoos. They celebrate Chinese New Year at school. Their horizons are a little broader than mine were. That's got to be a good thing. As an added bonus, no one's kid's name seems strange to me ever.

(Although there is an Indiana Jones in our school. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about that.)


Anonymous said…
Indiana Jones? Yeah, that one, maybe not.

At my daughter's preschool, of the 24 or so children, she's one of only 2 or 3 that is not a visible minority. Many or most of her classmates don't speak English at home. I think it's fabulous, actually, that my children have this opportunity to grow up in such a multicultural community.
Lynn said…
That is so awesome! I grew up in a similar neighbourhood and I think it makes a huge difference to how kids embrace the world when they can be exposed to as many different cultures as possible as kids.

You should totally have another kid and name her Funmilayo. Although, then some day she'll go to get a Facebook page and a Gmail account and Funmilayo YourLastName will already be gone, and she'll be bitter.

Guess it's not such a good idea.
Mary Lynn said…
Markham's like that, too. I love it! Hana and Jamie's class has kids from so many different ethnic backgrounds. There are lots of different names. And actually, the kids' teachers are from equally mixed backgrounds, which I also like.

Their experience is definitely very different that what my own was, growing up in small town Ontario.
alison said…
I'm pretty sure that spontaneous Chinese delegation generation theory was disproved by Pasteur and superseded by Chinese delegation germ theory. :-)

We're still pretty monochromatic out here in the sticks, sadly.
Ms. G said…
We have a pretty decent cultural mix where I live too and it is cool for the kids. I named my oldest daughter a german name that no one ever pronounces correctly from the spelling unless they're from Europe. She appreciates that sooo much:) I learned though and the other two have good old fashioned simple names and they get annoyed that they aren't the only one who has it.
I love that the school is so multicultural - and what a great set of names. My school was very monocultural.
Amber said…
How great to have your kids raised among other cultures, our schools are like that here too. Where I grew up I had the weird name of "Amber" and was practically considered ethnic because I had brown hair. That is how monochromatic it was in rural Minnesota.
The Mayor! said…
OMG, TEARS streaming down my face!!! Puddinglike??? Who REALLY believes she had all those kids herself??? Indiana Jones??? You never fail to entertain me lady!!! I actually adore my kid's names, as I move past my initial paranoia I just may reveal them some day LOL!! We too have a fairly ethnic school, at least compared to when I was growing up, all my kids have a wide & varied circle of friends...multiculturalism is what Canada is all about! Except every time I RSVP to b-day parties, I'm terrified I'll insult them by horribly mispronouncing the parent's name as I read it off the invite....I can't even say "bonjour" without totally butchering it! Counting on my son's Gr 6 "A" in French to get me thru our wknd in Montreal next wekk LOL!
Julie said…
the hubby has been challenged with all of the different names he has seen over the past two years teaching. his classes have tended to be more visible minorities than not. love it.

i was very lucky to have attended a very ethnically diverse elementary and hich school. some of my closest friends were named Thuy, Zaire, Garish, along with Nathalie, Scott and Karyn. I can't wait for the jellybean to have the same.
Julie said…
oh and indiana jones? are you freaken serious?

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