After the Fact: It seemed like a good idea


One of our neighbors, a gentleman well over 6’ tall, donned a hot pink terrycloth rabbit costume for the country club’s Easter party and egg hunt. He was darling, with 3” long eyelashes and a fuzzy pom-pom tail nearly as large as a soccer ball. I wish I had taken a picture of my then-small son, John, with the bunny but one look, and the boy sprinted across the lawn, down the driveway and was headed for home before I could even say, “Smile!”

After the fact, I considered that, from John’s perspective, a giant pink rabbit was downright terrifying. Without thinking, we do the darnedest things to our kids: talk about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder! And you’d think I might have learned a lesson? No.  Many years later, it seemed like a great idea to have pictures taken of my grandson Zander with another large rabbit in the mall. Same outcome.

We throw these little ones to the mercies of very large and very loud science fiction-y creatures: “HO, HO, HO!” and “Only YOU can prevent forest fires. And we wonder why they shriek when a clown in the Stampede parade comes within a mile of where they’re sitting.

My daughter Chris took the grandkids (2 boys and Patience) to the haunted house in Monte Vista one Halloween eve. I’d guessed they’d be gone several hours between amusements and trick-or-treating so it was a big surprise when they arrived home in just a little over an hour. That includes a 10 or so minute drive from house to town. They’d barely made it across the spider-webbed front porch and into the house before Patience was crying. Tiernan had a circulation-stopping grip on Chris’s leg and very quietly told her, “I’d like to go home now.” Jacob, older by several years, was somewhere between bent-all-out-of-shape and thinking the whole adventure had been exceedingly funny.

Thinking of cruel and unusual things we do to our offspring, if you read the birth announcements in the newspaper, you’ve undoubtedly wondered why young parents today give their children names circuitously spelled, prone to mispronunciation or just plain silly. One of my sister Jami’s friends named her daughter “Nevaeh.” For the uninitiated, that’s “heaven” spelled backward. And, as it turns out, not that uncommon.  My son thinks it was inconsiderate that he’s a “III.” Which, as it turns out, is not at all how his sister pronounces it. My brother, Lonny, is also a “III,” but his son is NOT the “IV.” When I started college at ASC, I was enchanted that someone I met would be named John Bennington VII. Few people are happy enough with the names they were given that they want to share it with a son or daughter, but when you get up to IV, or V or higher, it becomes tradition. Or ego.

They say dogs respond best to names of one or two syllables so, even if your pet is registered with the AKC, you’ve probably shortened it to something manageable. Our Norwegian Elkhound, Jorwegian’s Image, was “Jory.” My Irish Setter, Daleighan, was “Daily.” And Chris’s little Chiquita answers with equal attention to “Banana.” Go figure.

If you think you can get away with being pretentious, try giving your dog a name that would embarrass even a poodle. Or give your kid a name that’s spelled with three “e’s”, two “I’s” and a half-dozen “s’s” and see how fast his buddies give him a really dippy nickname. Like “Banana.”

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