I was part of a movement of "dinosaur moms" when I lived in Maryland (Astrodon Johnstoni is the Maryland state dinosaur.) Which is nothing more than this -- dinosaur moms delight in the half-feral nature of the beasties they parent, even as they whisper Shakespeare and Kierkegaard in their ears at night.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Meet the Dinos

It is time you met Husband’s and my two children -- “Girl” and “Jones.” Girl’s name is, of course, not “Girl.” She has one of those surname names that we thought would be so original but is on every pre-printed license plate and sticker set in the toy store. But the appellation suits, not because she is too generic to warrant the simultaneously adorable and imperious moniker on her birth certificate. Quite the opposite. As the first child and first grandchild of ten individual people, she was, for a time, all girls, the girl, the quintessence of girl. Girl is a flakey flake flake with only the most tenuous relationship with the workaday world, redeemed only by her overwhelming genius and perspicacity. When taunted by a boy at school, she responded that he was a “buzzkill” and went on to introduce the term and invite discussion from the second-grade class.

Likewise, Jones is not “Jones.” He has one of those monosyllabic woodsy sporty names that defy the iambic expectations of our speech. It ends too soon. It begs for a suffix. Thus was appended “–sie”, which was deemed insufficiently manly; so we settled on “—ston;” which evolved into “—ston Jones;” then unaccountably shortened to “Jones;” (Sometimes “Jones Mc – ston Mc Jones,” if we are feeling really goofy).

Jones has a mild and entirely cosmetic birth defect. We in the family don’t even remember he has it, except when children ask us “What’s up with his face?” Further, without being asthmatic, properly so-called, his upper respiratory system does seem to be somehow lacking. In another time, he would have been one of those bedridden consumptives the curious heroine discovers locked in the attic. But he is too lively for any of that nonsense. When he laughs, he laughs uproariously; when he cries, the tears literally squirt from his eyes like from a fire hose. He wants alternately to eat you up with a spoon or to defy your parental despotism to the bitter end.

Jones is as boy as Girl is girl. They daily put the lie to all of the “Don’t dress your cat in an apron” undergraduate papers I wrote about how gender differences are culturally determined. From the beginning, if you rolled a ball to Girl she would name it and look for its baby ball and serve it tea. From the beginning, Jones would tackle us from nowhere like Kato in “The Pink Panther.”

We live in the most modest part of a preposterously wealthy and comically ambitious school district, soon to be redistricted such that we would live in the most prosperous part of a burdened school district. Similarly, our house sits in a town that is split by three counties, and happens to fall on the side of the county widely known for its success rather than the two famously chaotic ones. The incongruity has been good for keeping perspective.

The incongruity could be extended even further, because we live in the I-95 corridor of what we grew up calling “BaltoWash.” One foot in gritty, industrial Baltimore; one in lofty, cosmopolitan DC.


Mother Hypocrite said...

PLEASE let me have the phrase "preposterously wealthy and comically ambitious". It's just TOO good. I'd like to apply it to the Suzuki family we met at violin lessons on Saturday where the woman was attempting to teach her ONLY child to speak German, except that she herself was speaking it so badly that it actually made no sense. My husband and I nearly lost it entirely when she instructed him to "go and throw himself away" when I THINK what she meant was "go and sit down." Comically ambitious, yes. That would be apt! Thanks for giving it a name!

And by the way, the proper suffix for a male, monosyllabic name that begs for an ending is "O" -- if "ie" sounds too girly. "O" comes from the vocative case (not generally used any more) in slavic languages, but still widely used on Bulgarian playgrounds. As in:
Sasho, get your butt down from that there climbin' structure!

Mamo, I'm not comin' down from there!

Our son is Haigo. And always will be.

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