A Dick by any other name: Naming your children
We named our youngest Richard, mainly because we liked the name. Neither Lee nor I like the new celebrity trend of naming their offspring after vegetables, streets, or bodily sounds. Most of the family uses the diminutive Ricky but I call him Dick; or more accurately, my Dick. This is solely for the joke. It gives me the opportunity to pass out baby pictures while asking, “Do you want a picture of my Dick?” Or declare that a friend is rubbing the head of my Dick when she tousles my son’s hair. My particular favorite is “Who wants to kiss my Dick” before Ricky and I make the bedtime rounds. I easily have a twenty year supply of these jokes.
So why do I make these jokes at my son’s expense, besides the fact that I love seeing the look on my mother-in-law’s face when I say them? Though Lee and I do not subscribe to gender roles, there is something to be said about how humans are socialized. Mommy gets to be nurturing and kind and society sees the need to infuse our children with this form of love. Daddy is the flip side. We get to say things like “walk it off” or “get it yourself” that give the child a sense of responsibility and self-strength. If this was one of those African tribes that practices scarification rites, I’d be the Daddy with the sharp rock and the confidence that my son could succeed through the trial of pain. When all is said and done, it is the celebration, the laughter, at the end of the cut that makes the tiny scar into a piece of art. Remember – The one with the most beautiful scars gets the prettiest girl in the tribe. So, my viewpoint is that I am preparing my Dick to be the strongest of this little American tribe of ours.
Luckily, we have three therapists in the family and dozens of mental health worker friends to fix the results of my philosophy. This way, Ricky will be able to get some pretty great discounts as he works out his issues with his Dick wielding father.
Lee says: I will admit, at first I was shocked, disgusted and upset that Paul chose to call Ricky Dick. But the truth is that in my heart I am a comedic whore and funny is funny. He doesn’t actually call him Dick but refers to him as his Dick. There is a small but important distinction.
It’s a joke. Ricky will be called Dick whether we like it or not. I think by using it the way we do, we have diffused that potential trauma. When he gets older, he will wield the power of his name thus taking that weapon away from the bullies that will undoubtedly be around.
Another important thing about Ricky’s name is that we knew of his sex when we were 14 weeks pregnant. As a mother, the bond is easier because they are with you and you can feel them move around. They are as real as the kicks and constipation that they give you. For fathers, the reality of their son or daughter is a little more surreal. Naming and joking about Ricky was a way for Paul to bond to him even before he could touch or see him. As a parent and therapist, I strongly recommend for parents to find out the sex of the baby. The bonding takes place earlier and is ultimately healthier for all involved.
I do agree with Paul’s opinion that Mommy’s and Daddy’s parent differently. He taught me this the hard way and there will be lots more blogging on this concept. Everyday, I will hear “I’m washing my Dick” or “Hey honey, you wanna kiss my Dick?” and I will smile because it’s funny and keeps Paul entertained. I also smile because one of these days, when Ricky is taller and bigger than his dad, he will kick his ass. That’s when I get to say “Hey honey, your Dick just kicked your ass!”