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What's in a Name?

More than you think!

by Archie Wortham

 (c) FatherMag.com - All rights reserved.


"Why does everyone spell my name wrong?" Myles, my six year old, asked as we drove on the interstate. "Because they haven’t gotten to know you," I told him.

"Well it annoys me," he said. As I thought about it, I saw his point. If people really care about you, they get to know the things that are important to you, and the spelling of one’s name is important, regardless of how different it may be. Common names are the ones we generally assume we know how to spell, and the ones we make the biggest mistakes about. But if we care, we learn Myles can be spelled with a ‘y’.

The simple things are oftimes the most important. Whether or not you know your wife’s social security number may not be important. But knowing her birth date or her shoe size might be, as so many things get relegated to unimportance. Other things like stock prices, super bowl scores, before and after surgery size of some of Hollywood’s more famous plastic remakes take on a significance that can diminish the understanding our children have for us. If he can’t remember his promise, why should I care about him? Translated, if dad really cares, then dad will find out what’s important to me and do something about it.

Self-esteem is important, particularly important for those of you who have teenagers. Teenagers have the highest suicide rate of any age group. Granted, there may be nothing in a name, but try using it. If there understand you think they are important, maybe they’ll talk to you. Listen to them. Elevate what they say to the same importance you would those things that are important to you. Show you care by realizing why they no longer want to be called by their Christian name. Be happy they still know it. Be sensitive and care enough to care to call them as they wish to be called.

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about why I’m not "there" all the time. Inevitably, I find myself in the future solving some complicated equation on how I’m going to pay for college without mortgaging the house, and keeping enough of my social security to live on. Or sometimes I’m so stuck in the past about things I should have done I can’t get mobilize to do the things I can. I think I’ve met some dads there, with flat tires, even though people, like Good Samaritans, passed by offering lifts, new tires, and in some cases, even a new car. Yet some of us didn’t budge and are still stuck there. Being in the past or the future keeps us from relating to our family.

Here’s a news bulletin. Your family could care less if you make a million dollars tomorrow; they want you with them now. That stock company that went belly up, or that get-rich-quick scheme that went south is such a dead issue to them it should be embalmed. The point? I’ve grown to understand something I call "the transcendental chronology of fatherhood." Men have to realize that in order to enjoy the present we must live in it. It’s okay to plan, but share your dreams...aloud. You might get an idea from someone you love. It’s okay to feel sorry for yourself, but if you do it alone, then the person you hope will pep you up will have no idea. You need to tell them.

In our fast, fast, fast world today, we forget about the simple things. Learning how someone spells their name is just one of them. Learn your wife’s shoe size, her social security number, or even driver’s license number. It’s nothing much, but you’d be surprised how many of these things she knows about you? Imagine the trouble or difficulty she would have had if she didn’t know what type of ice cream the kids like, favorite colors, or your favorite meal? It’s like spelling someone’s name wrong. If it’s an important thing to know, you learn it.

When Myles asked me that question, I never thought about why his mom and I chose to use a ‘y’. We chose the name Myles, because it means soldier, and my wife said it sounded nice with my surname. But the reason we chose the ‘y’ not the ‘I’? Haven’t the foggiest. But as I listened to him, I understood.

Names are important. Names are more than what you are called. Names are who you are. And if you don’t let people know who you are, they might call you anything. If you don’t correct them when they are wrong, guess what? They will never get it right. Relationships are the same. If you don’t say what you mean, don’t expect people to read your minds. If you don’t tell your son or daughter the reason you don’t like to listen to some music is because the hearing aid has not been developed that translates jargon that fast, they’ll never know the answer. You think ‘why’ questions ever stop. I use them every day, but some time parents think we’re Bill Gates, and have a monopoly on them.

Myles now knows he has the responsibility to correct people who spell his name wrong. But as I explained to him, for some people, Myles will always be ‘miles.’ Like on the highway. He probably just thinks mom and dad made another mistake and just didn’t want to admit it. If I don’t reassure him otherwise, that’s what he’ll believe, every time we drive on the highway, and be annoyed!

 
"Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another 'What! You too?  I thought I was the only one."
  -C. S. Lewis


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