Dear Parents and Future-Parents,
People often say that you should work your way up to having kids, to see if you’re responsible enough to handle it. Start by buying a plant, see if you can keep that alive for a while and if that goes well, move onto a pet.
I think this is a terrific idea because lord knows there are some people who would not clear that first plant hurdle and should take that as a sign. Not everyone should have kids.
But for those who do, I’ve noticed a troubling trend that has gone from merely cute and quirky to plain nutso. When it comes to one of the most important decisions you make on behalf of your child – what to call them – an alarming number of new parents are confusing human babies with dogs and cats. Perhaps they shouldn’t have made it past the pet stage of the preparing-for-parenthood experiment. Or perhaps, they’re just misguided about the impact their decisions can have on their kids’ future.
You want to know the name that broke this camel’s back? Actually there were three. I heard them while reading this Real Housewives of Melbourne recap and learning that one of the housewives has three young children named Buster, Budd and Kiff. And sorry but no. The double letters at the end does not make those names more human. Those are excellent names for labradoodles. Or tough cats. But not children.
I’m not saying you have to name your kid John or Jane. There are plenty of ways to give your baby a distinctive or unusual name (if that’s what you’re looking for) without resorting to Lassie or Skippie.
I fear this pet-names trend is reaching epidemic levels. There are celebrities who have called their children Wolf, Bugsy, Pixie, Coco, Angel, Duke, Lulu, Sparrow, Cricket, Honey, Buddy and Bear. There are several celebrity children called Bear (it’s also the #2 most popular dog’s name in the US). Some of them are GIRLS.
And this isn’t just a celebrity thing. While I don’t yet have kids myself, many of my friends do and I have to stop myself from flinching every time I see a Facebook post announcing the arrival of Lucky, Lady, Rocky, Trixie, Ginger or Rusty.
And I have to stop myself leaving a comment asking for clarification on whether they’ve had a baby, a Beagle or a Burmese kitten.
What on earth is going on? When did people forget that naming a baby is actually a big deal. It’s something that will stay with your kid for life, way beyond looking cute in an Instagram photo with #babyBear. Your name affects people’s perceptions of you, whether you like it or not. And other people’s names affect your perception of them, whether you realise it or not.
What will a future employer think when they see Wolf or Bugsy or Pixie on an application for a senior policy adviser or school teacher? Would you want someone called Cricket running your business?
Come on parents. It’s time to grow up. If you want to be all hipster and clever and amuse your friends, then buy an actual dog or a cat and go for your life.
But when you name an actual human child, you have a responsibility to them. And to the adult they will become.
What do you think of baby names that sound like pet names? Silly or cute?