I have a new name. It’s a name that I am not particularly proud of but am partially to blame for.
As a parent there are, I’m finding out, a lot of lessons and explanations that you have to pass on to your kids: being truthful, having good manners, showing others respect, rooting for the Chicago Bears rather than a good football team, just to give a few examples. These are all important lessons but now that I have two boys the most important lesson that I have had to pass on to my kids has to do with name-calling.
Teaching my boys the lesson of name-calling has been a tough one. They love to call each other names. They love to call me names and they love to call their toys names. This is a problem. A big problem, in fact. Nobody likes to be called names; it’s disrespectful and hurtful. Fortunately my kids are good (as far as I know) about not calling anyone outside of our family names but if they did it would be truly embarrassing. The embarrassment doesn’t stem from the reasons I stated but from the fact that my kids are terrible at coming up with truly creative and interesting names to call others.
When I first noticed this I wrote off their inability to come with good names to call people as them just having an off-day, though deep down I knew that wasn’t the truth. As time went by and I observed more of the same bland names being thrown about by my sons I decided that I had to do something about it. Like most things related to being a parent I was completely clueless as to what I should do.
As a stop-gap measure I tried to explain to them the reasons why, in general, they shouldn’t call anybody names but I knew, even before I started the speech, that they weren’t going to listen; I was just hoping to buy myself a little bit of time. Much to my surprise, however, it bought me much more time than I imagined. To be specific they waited until I was done talking before they called me a “poo-poo potty”. They then proceeded to call me, and each other (they know better than to call their mom anything – smart boys), the following names:
Chicken nugget poo-poo
(And, last but certainly the longest)
Corn dog potty pee-pee poo-poo face
You can see what I was up against here. No creativity. Too much reliance on bodily fluids and receptacles wherein bodily fluids go into. It was disgraceful.
Still trying to figure out how to handle this situation I decided to make a joke to distract them, “You can call me anything you want,” I began. “Just don’t call me late for dinner.”
As I said this I saw something change in my oldest son; something elemental and raw; something that said, “ah-ha!” At first I didn’t understand what was happening to my son; I assumed he was hungry or about to punch his brother, but then he said this:
“Okay, Mr. Poopy-pants-late-for-dinner”
He had done it. My oldest son had broken through the barrier of bland name calling and come out a true name-calling champion. It was a proud moment. The moment was fleeting though as I soon realized, much too late, that this would be my new name. At the time of this writing, I have been called “Mr. Poopy-pants-late-for-dinner” (or some variation thereof) approximately 3,236,859,931 times since. It’s gotten to the point that I don’t even answer to “dad” or “Nathan” anymore. At work I now answer the phone, “This is Mr. Poopy-pants-late-for-dinner” and when the caller’s shock wears off and asks if “Nathan” is available I tell them they have the wrong number.
As if answering my phone as “Mr. Poopy-pants-late-for-dinner” wasn’t bad enough, the other day I received in the mail a notice that my driver’s license needs to be renewed. Will I be able to find a way to resist telling the people at the DMV that my name is now “Mr. Poopy-pants-late-for-dinner”, thereby making this name change official? I just don’t know. What I do know is that, regardless of whether I officially change my name to “Mr. Poopy-pants-late-for-dinner” or not, I’m proud of my son and I still don’t like being called late for dinner.