Sunday, November 30, 2008

What's In A Name?

Kellan got me thinking about names with this post.

Toni is a fairly common name these days. When I was a kid, though, the only other kids named Tony were boys and that always drove me crazy. In my family, it was sort of customary (for some strange, unknown reason) to name daughters with traditionally boy names. I have an Aunt Tomie and a cousin Terri, among others.

People called me Tonya and Judy (!?) a lot. I never had pencils with my name on them. Until I was doing driver's ed, though, the whole Toni name was little more than an irritation.

When the elderly instructor was calling role, she paused at my name. "Toni D.....?"


"Sweetie, could you come up to the desk, please?"

"Uh, okay," and approached the desk, puzzled why I was being asked to come to the desk two minutes after the course began and before she had finished calling out the names of the other students.

"Toni, I need you to write your real name on this list."

"That IS my real name."

"No, sugar, your god-given name. The one on your birth certificate."

"That is it. My name is Toni Lynn D..."

"No, honey, your Christian name. What your mom calls you when you are in trouble."

"No, I get it," I am growing frustrated that this old lady is insinuating that I didn't know my real name at sixteen years old. "My name is Toni. THAT is my NAME."

"Well, you're wrong, dear. Tomorrow bring in your birth certificate and we will sign you back up with your real name. That is something that we need to ensure is correct or you won't be able to drive."

Well, duh.

Much to the old hag's dismay, I did, in fact, know MY NAME. It was, surprisingly, Toni on my birth certificate- not Antonia or Antoinette, as she suspected. She informed me that my name was "simply ridiculous" and my mom "must have hit her head" before naming me.

Incidents like these really stuck with me and influenced the decisions my husband (who goes by initials and is called every wrong group of them imaginable- most offensively, O.J.) and I made when we named our children. While I love the trend of naming both boys and girls last names (like Riley, Cooper or Taylor), I was not setting them up for any of this confusion.

So, what trouble has your name caused you??? Or your kids?


Laura McIntyre said...

Firstly i love the name Toni, i always loved the name for a little girl but hubby said nope .

My name has never really caused me trouble and at the moments the kids names are fine. Our problem is we will more than likely not stay in Scotland forever and poor Eilidh and Ruaridh are always going to have to tell people how to say and spell there names.

Dana said...

What an old hag.

I never did mind my own name. Nobody else had it and it was rare to meet another Dana. I always thought it was weird to meet a boy Dana when I was so used to girls.

Here's the story of my BIL who joined the army. My MIL's maiden name is Johnson(no relation to the current to family she married into). When BIL was ordered to say his mom's maiden name, the army sargent didn't believe and made him do like 50 push ups. This happened many years ago.

Hip Mom's Guide said...

My first name is Kirsetin, pronounced Kear-stin. The traditional spelling is Kirsten, same as the name with the short "i." As such, my mom thought she was saving me all sorts of trouble my throwing that "e" in the middle. In retrospect, of course, she says she should've put in by the first "i," but that's not how it happened.

I get all sorts of strange pronunciations and lots of "is that a family name?" sort of questions. As a kid I hated it, but now I've grown to own it, and I don't mind at all. Still, I went with basic, easy to pronounce-and-spell names for my boys, and I'm sure my own experience had some influence!

Missy said...

Well, my name never caused problems, but I do sometimes regret the spelling of my daughter's name - Emilee (even though I like it much better than the traditional "Emily"). Nothing big, but I love cute little personalized things, that I will never find with that spelling of "Emily". I did have someone call her "Em-eel" once, which was annoying.

Kellan said...

That is so funny - that teacher must have hit her head before saying something that stupid to a child - HA! My husband's name is Bill - not William - and he gets that all the time! I never - to this day - can find a pencil with my name on it *sigh*.

Enjoyed this post, Toni and I like your name! Take care - Kellan

Nap Warden said...

I haven't had trouble with my name. I think Toni is a great name! (my Dad's name is Tony) I like it for both boys and girls;)

Totallyscrappy said...

My name is Judy. Not Judith, so I had a bit of the "your real name, honey" stuff going on, but not to the degree of that drivers license women. :) I had a roommate that hated when people shortened her name from Kymberly to Kym. So,I called her Berly to make up the difference. ;)
I just know that I wanted my kids to find their name on a pencil or toothbrush so they have relatively ordinary names with tradtional spellings.
When it comes to names I always think of that Bible verse in Isaiah where God says, "I have called you by name and you are mine." He likes His Toni just the way she is!