Tim’s fraternity threw a LAN party on Friday night. As we left at about 2 am, one of my favorite brothers told us, “Be safe! We don’t want any babies running around.”
Feeling jovial, I replied, “Why not? If we order one, there’s at least a ten month production time, and we get to watch it be put together on the internet.”
He capitulated, and said, “Okay, but if you have kids, you have to give them the middle name of Danger.”
I laughed, and Tim said, “But that doesn’t go with my son’s name. He’s going to be Rocketship Timothy McGookey. Rocketship Danger just doesn’t have the same panache.”
As we went down the hallway to get our coats, I passed another group of people. I told them we were leaving. “Don’t worry,” I said, “We’ll be safe.” I said it for my own personal amusement, knowing that conception that night was terribly unlikely. They took it exactly how I was implying.
“Yeah, don’t want kids,” said another of my favorite brothers. He was an usher at our wedding.
“Why not?” I retorted.
“Well, I guess you can have kids,” he said. “But you have to name your kid ARACHNOTRON.”
“I don’t think so,” I said, laughing.
“Oh, come on, think about it!” he said. “Think about it. In kindergarden, during role call? Johnny? Here. Peter? Here. Arachnotron? ACRACHNOTRON IS HERE.” He squared his shoulders and elbows and did a little robot move. “It’d be hilarious.”
I laughed, and another guy across the hallway yelled, “I have an idea for you to name your kids, but you have to take it seriously,” he said. “You guys should name your kids combinations of your names. A girl could be named Kim, and a boy could be named Tate!”
The young man who wants us to name our first born son after a Transformer piped up, “Or you could bring back old timey names! Like Blanche and Evelyn and…”
Later I would come across the name Ichabod. Perfect. Perfectly awful, but perfect to tease people with.
Something about being recently married gives people permission. It gives them permission to become experts on all sorts of things that they don’t necessarily understand. Those whom I am not married to can’t see inside the marriage relationship, but somehow everyone thinks they know. Young men completing their undergraduate educations felt it necessary to tell us how to name our children. Mentors and parents, who see themselves as authority figures, tell us to wait to have kids or tell us not to wait to have kids. No one offers us the support and community necessary to raise children, only opinions.
I don’t know if we’re “ready” to have children. Parenthood, much like marriage, will be a day to day learning experience. We won’t ever be ready, we won’t ever have read enough to be experts. But I wonder if we have a generosity of spirit that would be necessary for children, if we have enough of a support network of friends, if we have a community for our children to grow up in. I want to be a young parent, so that when my kids are old enough to grow up and leave the house, I will be young enough to mentor them, to be their friend, through their young adulthood — and to continue to enjoy my marriage for many years to come.
The name game is entirely too premature, but on one level I’m grateful to it. It forces the issue to the forefront. Looking back on the interactions, I’m sorry that I joked that my future children would be “produced” — the quip was partially because I was thinking about the car that we ordered, and the fact that we will be able to follow the production process on the internet. I am a feminist Catholic, as much as such a thing exists, and I do believe that it is important to respect the personhood of my future children — it is why I don’t like the term “pregnancy scare” and why I try, with the whole of my being, to not be terrified at the prospect of becoming pregnant without perfect planning.
But while we have the luxury of planning and the assumption of fertility, it’s important to think about what is necessary for parenthood. It isn’t just names, but maybe that can be a start.
Just for the record? Everyone loves the name Eli Danger McGookey so far.