A few days ago, I shared this story. It’s the tale of a girl whose name was mocked – loudly – by a Southwest Airlines employee.
The child’s name? Abcde, pronounced AHB-sid-ee.
In an interview, the mom explained that her daughter overheard the cruel comments. She told her daughter: Not everybody’s gonna be nice, and it’s unfortunate.
Because when I shared it – and as I’ve seen it discussed elsewhere – lots of comments have been catty and cruel. Things like, “with a name like that, she’s in for a lifetime of mocking.” And so on.
Friends, we’re just not getting it.
No matter how outlandish the name, it’s not okay to mock. I’ve learned this the hard way. Because I have mocked names or trends in the past. There’s probably plentiful evidence on the site of needlessly cruel things I’ve said.
It’s tough, because when we pick names, we desperately want to know that we’re making good choices. The impossible thing? Names are not good or bad. They carry associations that may please us, meanings that we may personally find challenging. For some families, Winifred is The Name. For others, it’s Ella or Sloane or Abcde. People are infinitely different, interesting, and worthy. Why should our names not be every bit as complex?
For what it’s worth, this girl is not the first Abcde by a mile. Nancy wrote about it. And, interestingly, it’s kind of a Texas thing, which tracks – the family in question was flying home to El Paso.
But I also understand that we very much want to talk about names. And some truly are pretty outlandish. Abcde makes me raise an eyebrow because, well, it’s gimmicky, like Nevaeh or Alucard. It can be hard to express that feeling without crossing a line. But odds are that, if I met the family in person, there would be a story behind the name choice, and I’d come to appreciate it.
So I don’t have a good solution, any more than I did way back when I issued this post eight years ago. But I’ll still go with this: Please comment with a generous spirit, and please read the comments with a degree of generosity towards our fellow man.
- That argument happens all over the world. In Sweden, at the moment, it’s Skrot in the spotlight.
- An Orlando Marlow called Ozzie in these birth announcements – love!
- I think some of these super-rare names have rich potential.
- All the Lindseys are my age these days … but it’s the kind of name I would’ve wanted for myself at twelve or thirteen. And it will almost certainly be back again … some day.
- When it comes to choosing unusual names, it can be tough to know how far is too far. Good advice from Duana here.
- Easton Vaughn Rek Miller, a new son for athlete Bode Miller. I think names like Rek are interesting as middles, or, better yet, bonus middles, as is the case here. And I love the story about how they chose his first name.
- Have you nominated a Name of the Year for 2018 yet? I’m drawing a blank, but I like the suggestion of Beto. And, to bring us back to where we started, Abcde.
That’s all for this week. As always, thank you for reading – and have a great week!
Relentlessly cruel thing you’ve said? Ha ha! I’ll eat my cat if Abby Sandel or Amy Niadna has ever said anything approaching ‘cruel’.
Oh Imogen, you’re too kind!
I don’t know. I think I agree more with Abby here. I really, really, really, really, really hate the trend of giving boy names to girls. I think it demeans the girls by undervaluing their femininity, buys into leftist propaganda about there being no difference between genders, and also makes it harder and harder for parents to find boy names that are obviously male. Now . . . how many people have I offended already? What seems normal to some is always going to feel outlandish or offensive to others. Easterners aren’t familiar with the name Bridger, but that doesn’t make it less of a name. I am not going to name my daughter Taniqua because it would be ridiculous on a redheaded white child, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good, solid name choice for the right person. Kindness is always the best choice. Yes, I wince every Sunday at church when I hear my two friends call their little girls Myles and Elliot, but whatever. I love them, I love their girls, and I don’t have to say anything.
I agree, but also disagree. Is making fun of someone’s name wrong? Yes, it’s unnecessary and childish. However, the comments about Abcde growing up getting teased for her name and the name itself being one easy to poke fun at aren’t mean or wrong. They’re pretty much facts, as we saw. I think Abcde is a pretty silly name that doesn’t actually feel like a name to me. Obviously, if I met someone with the name I’d keep my thoughts to myself but the people around her and especially her classmates are a different case. Hopefully she has a less controversial middle name she could go by.
I agree completely. Abcde being a “pretty silly name that doesn’t actually feel like a name” is the truth, but, yeah, that doesn’t mean I would say that outright if I met someone with the name or someone who had a child with the name.
It certainly is difficult sometimes when it comes to commenting on names. I mean, we want to share our opinions, but sometimes our opinions seem harsh.
In my opinion, parents really should think hard about the names they give their children. When I saw the article about Abcde Redford at the airport earlier this week, I’ll admit I may have smirked a bit. If that were my name, I know that I would be clueless as a child, but as I got older and realized that it’s not an actual name with a true meaning–that it is literally just the first five letters of the alphabet–I personally would probably feel embarrassed and resent it. Maybe for this little girl it will be different, but…it makes you wonder.
Sometimes I think parents are seeking attention, the kind celebrities get when they give wild names to their children. And then, when they get it, they’re shocked and offended. Now, I do think that whoever that customs worker was behaved well out of line if she really did laugh out loud and make rude comments. Even so, I hope it made the mother reflect a bit on the fact that she DID give her child THAT name. I don’t know, but if I named my child Abcde or something else, say, “Efghi” (pronounced eff-ghee–in all sarcasm, yes) or even something like Raynbeau or Gravity, as a mother, I had just better be prepared for the reactions such absurd names would receive from normal, everyday people. Just the facts of life. Abcde is never going to be a fairly normal name the way Nevaeh has–somehow–become. (And by ‘normal’, I mean that it ranks within the top 100 and most people have met or know of at least one by now.) I just hope this little girl has a nice middle name to fall back on when she gets older and hates her name in a class full of girls with names like Mia, Avery, Isabella, Lily, and Madelyn. The girls named Amina, Devyn, Gertrude, Zelie, River, and Remington might stand out a bit…but I think not so starkly as Abcde will.