Wednesday, June 29th, 2011
We all want our kids to be unique, right? But that’s easier said than done in an age where being unique is so darn trendy.
It was my mom who brought it to the attention of my wife and me: Jack typically reaches for things with his left hand; seldom his right. In the process of deciding which pictures to use for my Dadabase posts in the past couple of weeks, I realized it was true. In most pictures where Jack is holding a toy or reaching for one, it’s his left hand that’s in the action.
Left-handed people represent only 10% of the world’s population. No one I know of on my side of the family is left-handed. However, my wife is 9 of 10 kids in her family; and she does have one brother and one sister who are left-handed. So if left-handedness is indeed related to genetics, then at least it is there somewhere in the gene pool.
So Jack is probably left-handed. And of course, I’m not the least bit surprised. I mean, he managed to utilize the rarest genes my wife and I had. He’s a blond-haired, blue-eyed, fair complected, big-boned baby from a family of dark-haired, dark-eyed, olive-complected skin where most men are slender and never grow taller than 5’ 11”.
I’m convinced that one of Jack’s many purposes in this life is to preserve the endangered traits of mankind. Of course, this doesn’t just go for physical traits.
His name was deliberately chosen to preserve a seemingly dwindling tradition: giving your son a simple, easy to spell, familiar, strong, masculine, classic American name that a girl could not be named. I noticed that so many modern baby boy names are now sounding more like Irish last names. And that’s fine- it’s just not my preference. With all the unique names out there these days, I figured the way my son’s name could actually be the most unique was to give him one of the most universally recognizable names in American history.
And I guess that brings me to today’s dose of irony. It seems that most of us parents find value in knowing our child is unique. After all, my wife and I grew up in the 80’s and were told on a regular basis by our teachers and cartoon shows that we were special and there is no one else in the world quite like us. Of course, it is indeed true that we are all special.
But I think we like to reinforce that fact in raising our kids. I named my son Jack in an effort for him to be unique. Meanwhile, a good number of other parents have named their son a form of “Brady” or “Collin” or “Quinn” or “Aiden” with the same inspiration. I guess it’s safe to say that none of these names (whether classic or trendy) truly accomplishes the goal, because ultimately a name is either really familiar or it’s so unique that it’s not really that unique, because being “unique” is currently trendy. And being trendy is not being unique.
I’m not convinced that a name itself can actually make a kid that unique anymore. Unless he’s named something gnarly like Mayor McCheese or Grimace- and then he’d be branded as the weird kind of unique. And that’s not what any parent wants for their kid.
So instead, I’m looking elsewhere for my son’s own uniqueness. Because he’s got plenty of it. And so does your kid. No matter what his name is, whether he’s left or right-handed, or whether or not he is an identical twin.
When my son laughs at my every attempt to scare him by making my “evil hissing cobra face” at him. When he gets so thrilled and excited he starts coughing as a result of me pretending like I’m going to step on him as he lies belly up on the rug. When Jack gets completely quiet as I take him on a walk at 6:00 AM to help my wife catch up on sleep lost during the night while I slept soundly. That’s unique enough for me.
Sure, “Jack” was the 6th most popular boy name last year; so my Jack is one of a million. But… my Jack is also one in a million.