April 20, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

One of the biggest perks of being a new parent is that you get to name your kid. It’s a lot of pressure, though. Luckily, some of the pressure is taken off, because we know that when you name your child, you get a little bit of ruach hakodesh. But not enough to raise it without making mistakes.

But if you’re a first-time parent, it at some point dawns on you that you also have to figure out what to name yourself. What are the kids going to call you? Abba? Daddy? Totty with an O? Tatty with an A? And I don’t know if there’s ruach hakodesh on that part. This is a name that you’re going to be stuck with for literally the rest of your life. So what do you do?

I’m here to help. Or mostly just make fun of you.

Because maybe it’s more like naming kids than we think. You know how a lot of times you can tell what kind of person a kid is going to be just based on the name? You can kind of do the same thing with parent names.

Let’s take, for example, the name, “Father.” If you’re going to be called Father, you have to be prepared to occasionally buy your child a pony.

“Father, I want a pony!”

And your kids will have English accents for some reason, even though your nanny is Hispanic. Or your kids will have whatever accent the nanny has. She’s the one raising them.

And ponies are expensive, because forget the initial purchase—you could probably find like a Groupon or something—but ponies eat. I don’t even know what ponies eat. But I assume you don’t just drop a couple of pony flakes on it every morning like a goldfish. They’re expensive. And you have to comb their hair and brush their teeth, and I don’t know. And kids don’t even share ponies. Each kid needs his or her own pony, because ponies are tiny. It’s not like a horse, where you could double up. You could break a pony.

The good news is that if you’re Father and you have to buy your kids a pony, you could probably afford it, because you get to work long hours, seeing as you don’t have to worry about getting home in time to see your kids. You just have to instruct the nanny to stand outside when your jet flies overhead and say, “Wave to Father.” You don’t have to make time to hug them. Let them hug the pony.

And other names come with personalities too. For example, I think Abba is more active, and Totty has more of a boich. Maybe you can start off as Abba and then become Totty. Dad has a boich too, but he’s in denial about it. Daddy helps you work on your car.

Mommy is generally very doting, and kisses your boo-boos well into your 30s. Mother is always annoying her kids somehow, and then they call her by her full name. (“Mmmother!”) And if you want your kids to be smacked upside the head, you can be Momma.

It also has to do with what kind of kids you want. If you want your kids to be disrespectful, you can call yourself Pops or Old Man. If you want your kids to be lazy, annoyed teenagers, you can call yourselves Ta and Ma. And if you want your kids raised in Brooklyn in the 1950s, you can be Fodder, which, incidentally, is what you feed ponies. And your wife can be Mutter, which is what you do when your mutter says something you don’t like.

And the same goes for choosing your own grandparent names. Zaidy likes to tell the grandkids stories about how much things used to cost, while Zighty likes to ask the kids questions about their rebbi. Pappy is slowly losing his marbles and has no idea. Gramps yells at kids to stay off his lawn. Grandfather buys his einiklach ponies, which their parents then have to figure out how to store and feed and bring to the dentist.

Bubby makes the best potato kugel ever, using absolutely no recipe, but she has to grate the potatoes by hand. Granny likes to knit itchy clothing. Bobby spoils the kids with candy and presents, but not ponies, like Grandfather. In short, you kind of have to decide what you want to be.

Though the truth is that you don’t really get to pick your own name, in the end. In the end, your name is actually whatever your spouse names you when he or she talks to the kids about you. Your spouse is like, “Here, go to Totty,” or “Wow. Go show Mommy.” You yourself don’t use your own name when talking to your kid. You don’t say, “Give it to Totty.” Okay, so some people do, and yes, you’re teaching the child your name, but you’re also teaching him to talk about himself in third person. That won’t get him made fun of in school. So when are you ever going to personally teach your kids what to call you? Though if you think about it, some experts say you should talk to your kids like adults, so you can just do what you do when you want to teach an adult your name—you can walk up to your child at some point, stick out your hand, and introduce yourself. As long as you don’t wait long enough so that it’s awkward to introduce yourself.

“Hi, I’m Totty.”

“I’m 3.”

But if you start too soon, you’re going to have to do this on a regular basis, because kids need repetition, which is psychologists’ nice way of saying, “Kids don’t listen the first time.”

By Mordechai Schmutter

 Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia, The Jewish Press and Aish.com, among others. He also has five books out and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected]

 

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