kids

"My neighbour named her dog after my son...and this is how I feel."

Gosh, it almost kills me to admit this, but there are two very amazing things my ex-husband did for me: helped me make the most incredible kid a person could ever ask for, and give that kid a name.

It was one fateful night at a Chinese restaurant. I was six months pregnant, and my husband, to my utter amazement, pulled out a piece of paper with a list of boys names on it.

We’d spent the previous few months debating girls’ names, which had almost broken us, because my husband had had a lot of previous partners… and I’d forced him to tell me each one, lest he reveal to me at our daughter Susan’s 18th birthday party that he used to bone a Susan.

Finally, we’d decided on beautiful Bonnie. And then my husband (and his big mouth) made the mistake of telling his seven-year-old son (my step son), who promptly responded, “That’s so stupid! That’s a dog’s name!”

Luckily, we soon discovered we were having a boy. I’d had trouble narrowing down boys names, because I liked so many. I wanted something strong and traditional – but not common. Easy to spell. And definitely not biblical. He’d be given an Indian middle name, but his first name had to tick those boxes.

So, when my husband whipped out the list from his suit pocket, I glanced at it – and I knew immediately that the first name was it.

Winston: named after the greatest, most iconic British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill. Strong, traditional, not too common in Australia, easy to spell, and not biblical. Perfect.

(As a side note, if you’re wondering if my kid is called Winston Winston – he’s not.)

I loved it, and to this day, I’ve never abbreviated it. Lots of other people call him Winnie, or Win. I tried using Winnie-the-Pooh when he was a baby, but I loathed it.

Don’t get me wrong – I love that other people have nicknames for him. His brother – the one who hated Bonnie – calls him Winnie, and it’s so cute.

But not me. Not his mum. I love the bold, grand name so much, the kid will always, always be Winston to me.

And, as I discovered last night, I’m not the only one who loves the name.

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Last night, my now 11-year-old kid and I were unloading our gear from the car when we heard someone calling my son’s name… repeatedly and tersely.

“Winston! Winston! COME. HERE!”

My son and I looked at each other, half-laughing, half-bemused. Then our neighbour, Mrs S, walked around the corner, holding a little pug.

“Oh hi!”, she said.

“Guess who this is? It’s WINSTON! I named him after you because I’ve always loved your name!”

Mrs S was obviously very pleased with her decision – and it was clear she wanted us to be, too.

I was a little stunned. Seriously: I couldn’t make this sh*t up if I tried.

We were so surprised, and for a millisecond, I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry. But of course, I laughed. I love the name. I can’t hear it enough. And as for crying – that’s not how I roll about things that are none of my business.

Because that’s exactly what this situation was: none of my business. My neighbour has a right to name her puppy, or child, or car, (but perhaps not a body part – that would be awkward) Winston if she wants to.

Me and my own'pet' Winston. Source: Supplied.
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Did it bother me that Mrs S and I might sometimes now talk about 'Winston the dog' and 'Winston the boy'? Not one bit. And, looking at my kid on his knees so that Winston the pug could lick his face, it didn't seem he'd care, either.

The thing is, I'd heard of friendships breaking up over this sort of thing. Family members becoming estranged, because someone gave their third child the same name as someone else's first born.

And I've always thought, especially for common, traditional, names - for fark's sake. We have no right to control what another person is perfectly entitled to do.

This week, there's been a viral story about a girl named 'Abcde'. Even that 'unusual' name probably couldn't be patented - it's literally the beginning of the alphabet.

Kylie Minogue won when Kylie Jenner tried to patent "Kylie" - but that's a commercial matter. We don't own names. My son - yes, he belongs with me. But I don't own him - and I certainly don't own his name.

The way I see it, Winston the pug is just joining a line of amazing Winstons.

Did you give your child an unusual name, or do you like traditional names? Tell us in the comments section below.

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