Friday, March 17, 2006

What's in a name?

I'm beginning to wonder.

So today Alex and Lucas and I went to the playground. It was a perfect day for it. The weather was mild and sunny.

Obviously we weren't the only ones with the idea because within an hour, two groups of kids showed up. The first was a group of little rich kids. I could tell were rich because they were all dressed to the nines. They were so well-dressed, that I felt underdressed. The girls looked like china dolls; the boys looked like Little Lord Fauntleroy.

Another way I could tell they were rich was because while the parents were there (it was for a birthday party) so were The Nannies. Ocassionally the parents, who mostly stood around talking while the nannies chased the kids, would yell to the children to be careful, which made sense. Everyone should know it's dangerous to run with a silver spoon in your mouth.

But what amused me were the names of the kids. There was a Baxter, a Browning, a Madison, a Farrington, a Dexter, a Langley and a Sims among others.

I was curious and struck up a couple of conversations with the parents. "What an interesting name, Langley," I complimented one mother. "Is it a family name?"

No, she said. The same was true of several other upwardly mobile parents.

Then a preschool class showed up. These kids were clearly from the wrong side of the tracks. They were slack-eyed and snot-nosed as they wandered away from their disinterested teachers. I rescued two grubby waifs from the plastic climbing rock, fearing if I didn't they'd fall and crack their little skulls. In the thick of it I began hearing names like Shaniqua, Destiny, Tyree, Donque and something that sounded a lot like the word "Vagina." Upon some checking, I learned that the littel girl's name was Vijiya, a made-up word that sounds enough like "vagina" to ensure her a tortured adolescence.

It wasn't the first time I'd heard such an odd name. At Chuckee Cheese years ago, I heard a woman call her daughter "Crustacea. "

"No," I thought. "That can't be." But it was. The woman said she got the name out of a science book. I can only imagine all the teasing that kid got about crabs once she reached her teens.

So there my kids and I were, on a playground surrounded by little rich kids with pretentious names and little poor ones with weird, made-up ones. The nannies chased the rich kids while their parents cast irritated glances whenever a child interupted their conversation. The daycare workers hauled the poor ones around by the arms of their oversized, hand-me-down jackets, plopped them into the swings and left the others to be chased about by a total stranger.

Eventually, the daycare kids left, which was good because I was exhausted from looking after them. Then the rich kids' nannies herded them to a shelter for the party as the parents walked casually in their direction.

I was left there, at 11:30 a.m., the only fulltime mother on the playground. I felt like a relic. And while I tried not to judge, I couldn't help but wonder about the hearts of people who put more pride in naming their kids than they do in raising them.

18 comments:

Taylor said...

wonder about the hearts of people who put more pride in naming their kids than they do in raising them

Those parents won't have much pride when they begin to reap what they have sown. Their neglected children will come to resent them and give them nothing but trouble...

Morgan said...

You know, I fault those rich parents more than the poor ones. Poor parents who have to work are often stuck with crappy childcare. But I couldn't understand why mothers and fathers who obviously can afford designer clothes for their kids can't afford to have one parent raise the kids.

It was so weird; they acted like their own kids were insects or something. Whenever one of the kids got away from the nanny and came up to cling to a mommy or daddy, the parent looked down with this tense, uneasy smile as if they were embarrassed.

Taylor said...

Yeah, I know what you're talking about with people like that. There are a couple of new mothers in my neighborhood. They leave their poor babies with nannies and off they go to their precious jobs. Never mind that the husbands make enough to support all of them.

So cold these people are. And the children will become like them. I was raised quite differently. Lots of attention, warmth, hugs and kisses. How can a human develop properly without those things?

Morgan said...

"There are a couple of new mothers in my neighborhood. They leave their poor babies with nannies and off they go to their precious jobs. Never mind that the husbands make enough to support all of them."

Don't just fault the mothers. You see a lot of that on VP, but I have to tell you that just about every working mom I know who wants to quit has told me she can't because her husband would have a fit if she did. Most of these upwardly mobile people are in debt up to their hairlines and for what? An image to impress other people? Ultimately, it's the kids who pay.

I'm all for women working if they want, but it seems to me that couples who can afford it would plan for her to at least cut back if not quit altogether.

Oh, on a good note - I didn't have a chance to blog about this - our homeschooling group is starting a preschool co-op. One of the moms in our group used to run a Montessori preschool. She's donating the building and all the materials to the group, is going to teach us how to teach Montessori and - for a small monthly fee and a promise to rotate as teachers - our little ones are going to be able to get a Montessori education two or three days a week. I am on Cloud Nine!!

prettylady said...

just about every working mom I know who wants to quit has told me she can't because her husband would have a fit if she did. Most of these upwardly mobile people are in debt up to their hairlines and for what? An image to impress other people? Ultimately, it's the kids who pay.

This is mind-bogglingly horrible. I had no idea that society was in such a terrible state--I tend to be very selective in my friendships, and rarely encounter such people. I suppose it's my tendency to be genuinely blind to negative, self-centered energy.

There is a very sadly hilarious book called "The Nanny Diaries" which illustrates this very thing.

I, for one, cannot imagine choosing image over motherhood. Perhaps one of the reasons that I struggle so with my finances is that I have utterly no motivation to make more money as long as my basic needs are provided for.

Morgan said...

I read the "Nanny Diaries" last year. I remember there was a good deal of umbrage from the wealthy set over that book, but I'm inclined to believe it was because it hit too close to home.


"Perhaps one of the reasons that I struggle so with my finances is that I have utterly no motivation to make more money as long as my basic needs are provided for."

You and I are cut from the same cloth in this regard. I'm not a shopper, save for the bookstore and art store, and refuse to saddle myself with debt for superficial things I'll regret buying later. My high-mileage car suits me fine, my home is paid for and if I need something to wear for a special ocassion the nearby town is full of upscale thrift shops. The less I need to spend, the less I need to make. The less I need to make, the less I need to work. The less I need to work, the more time I have for the things I truly love.

Perhaps one day I shall die poor, but I'll die happy.

prettylady said...

refuse to saddle myself with debt for superficial things I'll regret buying later. My high-mileage car suits me fine,

Yes indeedy. My Pathfinder has 204,000 miles on it and counting, and I can't imagine wanting to trade it in until it dies completely. My current problem is that I am forced to saddle myself with debt for things I absolutely need, such as art supplies and car maintenance. Seriously need to step up the art marketing. Sigh.

Morgan said...

Yes, debt is a necessary evil for necessities. My car is approaching the 200,000 mile mark and I regularly have things patched and replaced on it by our very affordable mechanic. But eventually, I know, I'll need to invest in something a bit more dependable. I really want a Subaru Outback, as I need something fuel-efficient but large enough to carry children, plants, dogs, etc. My husband has decided we need a larger truck - one with a cab to accomodate all of us - to haul the large plant trailer we just got, so it looks like we'll be on the hook for that sooner than my car.

Our plan is - if we have a good season at this year's market - to use a portion of the profit to pay off the truck. We won't be buying something brand new; we've never cared about the prestige of having something depreciate as soon as you drive it off the lot. Something used and in good shape will suit us fine.

My sister has a Montero that still looks great, even though it's quite old. She has had it refurbished and repainted so many times. But she's like that about maintaining everything, her home and herself included. She's a smart cookie.

Taylor said...

Oh yes, I'm exactly the same way. The things that can bought off the shelf have never interested me. In fact, my dear mother would go out and buy my clothes because I could never be bothered with such things. LOL! Shopping literally depresses me. Unless it's at the farmer's market for fresh fruits, vegetables.

Also, I've never bought a new car, even though I could afford to. Hell, as long as it starts, stops and keeps me warm and cool as need, I'm happy with it. And will only buy standard drives - better gas mileage and no transmission problems to deal with. I drive a little black BMW 525I 5-speed. Wolfy has never given me any problems. And when I wash him, he looks so shiny and purty. I will keep him until he starts giving me trouble. Kind of like my men...

Morgan said...

Heavens, if we could just replace parts on men we wouldn't need Viagra.

But I guess Viagra is good for someone not ready to trade in their comfortable, dependable old ride. ;-P

prettylady said...

And will only buy standard drives - better gas mileage and no transmission problems to deal with.

Ah! A Real Woman, just like myself! Although I have fried several clutches, driving standard in the Bay Area.

Taylor said...

Oh I can imagine - those steep hills must play havoc on the clutch! Just love the control I have with standards. Only once have I had trouble with a clutch. Driving from Dallas to Lawton, Oklahoma. My clutch went out and I knew I could not downshift or I'd never get going again. It was okay as it was all highway, except through Wichita Falls where you must go through town and hit several lights. It was very late at night and I ran every freaking light! I wasn't going to downshift until I got to my destination which was right off the highway. I also had to run through the toll booth, throwing the money out the window as I whizzed by - doubt I hit the receptacle. It was funny. But I made it.

Morgan said...

I admire you ladies. When I had a stick shift, I rode my cluch like a rented mule and burned through the damn things like matches.

But I do love them and miss my past stick-shift cars, my little Subaru that eventually blew up, my mini Volkswagen station wagon that got totalled by that drunk guy....etc.

Taylor said...

You sound just like my sister and her clutch experiences. Bad luck that your VW wagon had to meet its demise by a drunk driver.

Oh, another super advantage to standards is you can push start them. Battery or starter problem? Piece of cake. I had this old Toyota Corolla and would park it at the top of a sloped circular drive that I had then. The starter was bad and on some mornings, after 10 minutes of turn-click-nothing, I'd put it in second, open the door and push myself off down the sloped drive. She'd start right up and off I'd go to the office! You'd be SOOL with an automatic.

Morgan said...

"Oh, another super advantage to standards is you can push start them."

Oh, I did that with my VW on more than one ocassion. It is a definite advantage.

I really liked that wagon. It was dark blue with leather interior and a sunroof. It belonged to my parents but they weren't using it so my dad gave it to me. I still miss it and it's been over 10 years since it was totaled.

prettylady said...

My God, Taylor, you have Nerves of Steel. My clutch went out on highway 17 outside of Los Gatos, once--the highest percentage of traffic fatalities on switchback curves in the nation. I got it to the side of the road, shook down the cocaine dealers, who had providentially run out of gas in front of us, for the use of their cell phone (they actually considered not allowing me to use it) and towed it to the dealer. I have always had good guardian angels.

Taylor said...

PL, you don't sound like a lighweight yourself.

It has occurred to me that because I've being single all my life that I've been faced with many precarious situations which I had no choice but to deal with - alone. It's amazing what one is capable of doing when there is no one around to help. As such, I've been forced to become quite resourceful, self-reliant. I'm sure it has been the same with you. I too rely heavily on my Guardian Angel.

Only once have I phoned someone for help. I briefly lived in a mountain home alone (it was glorious), one day was sweeping the front porch and this huge tarantula was sunning herself there. I swept her off. No big deal. Next morning, going to work, there she is inside, right smack on the front door in all her huge hairy glory - like she was getting me back for disturbing her the day before. That was too much. I couldn't see myself killing her or herding her outside - I hear they jump! So I called a co-worker to come in from town. He suggested I leave from another door. HELLOOO!? Right, and when I get home, she'll probably be all cozy, napping in my bed. Anyway, he got there and took care of it. My hero. He was duly rewarded with a nice homecooked meal.

So, as long as there are no scary creatures involved, my nerves generally don't fail me.

Nanny Louise said...

I happen to be a nanny for a stay-at-home-mom who can afford to pay me a very good salary. I am full time and get paid very well. I love these kids like famaily. I have been with them 5 years and adore them in every way. Fortunatly for me, the mother is a hands on parent, she is a great mother. But I think those not in the NYC social strata of life might find it is very difficult to understand why some mothers employ help.
In other parts of the world or other counrty new parents have their families around, granmothers, aunts, Uncles etc. In Manhattan most of these new parents are new to the city with no emotional and physical backup. Instead of putting their kids in daycare or relying on a strange new face every other week, they use their well-earned money to employ somoene like me. Someone who will help you raise your child. Someone who will support your decisions and overide them when they are obsurd. Someone who will help you learn how to become a better parent. These mothers have employed women who know more about it that they do, all new mothers have to learn from someone and without family around for support, they employ people to become like family. I commend any woman who realizes that.... 1. she might not be a good mother as she would like and needs help, or 2. Is a good mother, but needs a break and wants to employ someone who knows more or 3. who says "I am stryggling here, my husband is never home, my family is far away and I am more stressed out that I could have ever imagined, I need help." Instead of you as mothers ridiculing them, I would take a long hard look at yourselves and others in the same boat. Everyone lives a differant life, but until all the mothers everywhere begin to support each others decisions, then mothers cannot have any support system, because every mother seems to have her click and they all seem to be justifying this and critisizing that, dont you think everyone is doing the best they can? I bet they are. Remeber money doesnt buy happiness and if these mothers might not have been very good mothers, shouldn't they employ someone else? Or like my employer, if they are a very good mother and want even more for their children, why not employ someone to help you as your family would have.
I think mothers today are all looking for validation, and you all deserve it, every single one of you, no matter how you choose to survive, no matter what means you take to raise your children. I commend every mother, who tried, who keeps trying, who loves her children in many differant ways that are differant or similar to others, but tries every day. Wether it is doing it herself, hiring help, or handing them over to someone better qualified if they feel like they are failing. Does it take someone strapping her kids into their car seats and doing something tragic before we see a cry for help? Appearances may be deceiving, I say we should make a united front and offer help where help is needed, wanted or desired. If nothing, mothers everywhere, who's children look healthy and are safe deserve at the very least, the benifit of the doubt.
Who are we as women to say how others should raise their kids, not even doctors are geting it right. Every 5 years there is a change in opinion, Dr. spok, doctor this, doctor that and woman everywhere take it as true.
Who are we to say that stay-at-home-moms produce better children?
When a little girl only sees her mother doing housework and wiping butts all day, while I think it is a noble thing to do, dont you want your daughter to grow up to be a strong smart woman who goes after her desires. If your desire is to be at home your daughter will sense that and be empowered by it, if your desire is to be elsewhere why not fullfill it, just like you would like your children to?
I dont think we should point fingers. Who says children with stay-at-home-moms will be better than someone else who works hard because she has always wanted to be a lawyer or someone who works because it brings them joy and gives them the needed energy to be with their kids when they are home. I have seen my share of mothers who are mean and horrible, rich and poor, and I dont think having a nanny, working or staying at home has anything to do with the kind of parent you are. Nobody can tell unless they are in your home all day, everyday. A woman who works hard and then comes home, does an art project with her children, reads them a story and talks to them about their day is just as good a mother if not better than one who spent the day yelling, stressing and reprimanding their kids, turning on the television and letting them eat candy all day. I think you all have valid points and as mothers I respect your opinion, but I try very hard to not judge and I know that stay at home or work does not a mother make. Its how you spend the time with the children when you are with them that counts, the way you talk to them, the way you handle them, the way you encourage them to live their dreams no matter what. If they want to work when they are older or go to college and exede their own expectation I hope mothers would encourage that rather that break them down and tell them what society now expects of woman...societ really seems to think that woman can work and do what you want, but when they have kids, stay at home and do nothing but raise them. Why not just tell them to skip college find a rich husband and have kids? Because that is what seems to be the thinking pattern of woman today. I find that sad. I was raised by a nanny, I am now a nanny, working toward a nursing degree and I write in my spare time. I am someone who has faith in womankind...but until we stand together as woman and as mothers....what do we have if not each others support? Dont we want to teach our daughters independance and self love too? dont we want our sons to view woman as equals?
Lets start acting like it.

Now in saying all that, I would like to say that I loved your blog, just found it and if you dont mind, I would like to return to read some more another day.