So when Tall was a baby, I read something somewhere that said if you are talking about your child in what could be perceived as a negative way (paint scene: “Tall was screaming at Target and all the other shoppers were staring at me,”), then you should talk in code so as not to hurt the child’s feelings. Seems reasonable enough. I mean, anytime you hear your name, your ears automatically perk up a little bit because you realize that people are talking about you, and you want to listen intently to find out exactly what they are saying.
That is a lot of pressure on a parent, this whole I-might-be-giving-my-kid-a-complex thing. I told The Husband about this well-researched theory (I think I read it in a magazine at the doctor’s office, so it must’ve been true), and he reluctantly agreed that I might be right. (I think his exact words were, “Huh.”) From that moment on, if we weren’t discussing the merits of teaching Tall baby sign language or his obvious overachiever ability at football (he threw his stuffed panda all the way across his crib!), then we were referring to him by his special top-secret code name.
As in, Fred kicked dirt at another child at the playground today or Fred got into the hidden stash of lollipops and ate five of them when I wasn’t looking.
This worked well for almost three years. Tall was what his pediatrician considered a “late talker”—he could eke out a word or two (think lollipop or dirt), but that was about it. Certainly never phrases or full sentences. Then, one rainy evening, The Husband and I realized that although “Fred” might not say much, he was astutely observing and processing everything. I’d just finished telling The Husband what Fred had done while he was at work all day (uh, that would be ripping up all Mommy’s favorite magazines), when Tall walked in the kitchen and declared
“My name is not Fred! You people need to stop calling me that! And my baby brother is not Klaus, either! His name is Short! Get it together, I am embarrassed to even call you my parents!”
That day was a brutal awakening for us, the feeble-minded mother and father. We have a new code name for parents now: Dummies.
("Morton? Oliver? Vladimir?")