Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Juvenile Delinquency 101

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet” (Romeo & Juliet II.ii.1-2).

When I teach Romeo & Juliet to my freshmen, we spend some time talking about names and whether our personalities are partially determined by our names. I don’t seem much like a Jennifer, but I do make a pretty good Jen. I’m sure you’ve met people who are practically personifications of their names. And there are people whose names don’t fit them at all. I believe that there is definitely a correlation between your first name and your personality though. With this in mind, it is important for people to recognize that some names, especially some boy names, lend themselves to a questionable future.

I’m a teacher; I’m a teacher of teenagers. As all teachers know, there are certain names that are “ruined” for us because we’ve had a kid in our class who has been annoying, talkative, disruptive, out of control, a behavior issue, a referral-in-waiting for pretty much their entire time in our classroom. Because of these students, teachers will never name their children certain names. Names like Nick. Now, Nicholas is a perfectly decent name. I have known a few Nicks who are pretty nice guys. However, decent Nicks are few and far between. The vast majority of Nicks in the world are going to grow up to spend some time in the clink. I’m not saying EVERY Nick is destined to have his own mug shot, just a good portion of them. Nick is not a name that a teacher will name their own child.

Actually, there is a trend that holds true with names like Nick. Single syllable names with a “k” sound usually don’t bode well. Mike, Jake, Kyle, and Chris are all common names. However, their teachers will cringe when they read their names on their class rosters. Especially if they are all in the same class…as freshmen…6th period. Welcome to a teacher’s nightmare.

As I was thinking of Juvenile Delinquent names, I decided to check out a baby name website, and look up some K names. I came across two really disturbing names. Kane. Yes, Kane. I know some people are all into the Biblical name thing, but this is taking it too far. I want to name my child a name that sounds exactly like, oh what was that guy’s name in the Bible? Cain. That’s right. What did he do? Oh, that’s right, he committed the first murder according to the Bible. Fratricide on Aisle One please, can I get a fratricide on Aisle One. If that wasn’t enough, the only person I can think of who is named Kane is the guy who played Jason Voorhees in a bunch of the Friday the 13th movies. That’s the kind of goals children should have. Either become a killer, or play one on TV.

The other name that made me raise my eyebrow in a questioning manner was Kaz. Now this particular baby name site has this feature where if you move the pointer over the name, a box pops up with the meaning of the name and its origin. Kaz, apparently, is a shortened version of Cassius. Cassius? Really? For those who have NOT been in sophomore English yet, I’ll let you in on a little character analysis of Julius Caesar. Cassius is the bad guy. He’s the one who gets Brutus to betray Caesar, gets a bunch of Romans to kill Caesar all because he’s jealous that Caesar has more power than he does. Like Cain or Kane, Cassius is not someone you want to be naming your child after.

Baby Naming Tip #3:

Unless you want to visit your grown child via Plexiglas window and direct phone connection, don’t go with a one-syllable name with a K in it somewhere.

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