Wednesday, February 1, 2012

What’s in a name?!!!


You know the biggest downside of having more than 3 kids….or lets just stick to the common number in an Indian community…more than 2 kids?!

No! its not the financial state or Mommy time, Daddy time that we need to divide among our kids, or, parenting problems which accompany with more personalities to deal with…I was going to say:

Its too much of a hassle, for your friends and acquaintances to call each of your kid by their names?!

Its uncommon to find Indian households with more than 2 kids, right?! Some “Brave” ones , as they are normally called, on their have 3! You know, if you are in my shoes, people say “Very Brave” to your face, but are actually muttering “Are you Crazy?” under their breath. 

For various reasons, ranging from financial independence to emotional independence, parents these days prefer to have just 2 kids.

I had the same plan as I grew, through college, as I waited for Mr.Hubby to knock on my door. I was going to have 2 kids, maybe 3..Hopefully a girl and a boy…And I had the lines on my fist to confirm that story about the number of kids I would have, from college. It was exciting.

Anyways, Fine..coz, that wasn’t the point…I’m writing about?! my case..the situation ended up a little more compounded. Not only did I have 4 children, 3 of them are of the same age and sex…and to top that..2 of them are identical too!  A big conundrum for people in our circles to comprehend.  Quite Understandably!

Really! It is intimidating for people to face “3 same looking” ..ok!..averaging that out..”3 almost same looking girls” and know who from who..right?! 

So, most parents and children in the neighborhood, and other extended circles, refer to our children as “The Triplets” or, “The Triplet sisters”. I can’t remember anybody referring to them as “The Palle Girls”, “The Palle Sisters”…I guess, its just me who uses those phrases in my blog sometimes, and in the pictures on my facebook.  It does sound very respectable to me…when I address them by their last name.

(Hopefully, friends of the kids around home or at school are not addressing them as “Triplets” on their face..that would give a feeling of unfamiliarity..although I can’t see that happening in school..because PNK have different teachers and classmates.)

If  I’ve to list out the names of all my children in every line I refer to them, on my blogs, wouldn’t that get a bit repetitive and wordy?! So, most times I even refer to them as “The Palle Girls”, “The Palle Sisters” or just “PNKR” on my blogs. PNKR! acronym I formed, using the first initial of each of our daughter.

By doing this..did I project the idea that they are an entity..I mean..did I compromise with their individuality anyway?!

At birth.. it surely felt, same birthday, same growth charts, inoculations, doctor visits. They even had their food, bath times, hair cuts, diaper changes, everything, together as babies. They were happy at the same time and cranky at the same time. (They must’ve peed in their diapers, at the same time too, Right?! Who knows?!)

But now..they are each growing up into 3 beautiful, sensible, sensitive and talented girls. That means 3 different dispositions, temperaments, styles, traits…sizes..habits..They could’ve just been born out of 3 different pregnancies and would still be as different as they are now. Isn’t it?

P is so..focused. She is so much of a 10% effort to get 90% done kind-of a girl..just like her dad. She appears so bold on the face, but, she’s such a softy inside...She can hide the fact that she may have lost her gloves at school, and can confidently convince the other 2 siblings, that it was they who lost theirs and what she is wearing today is indeed her’s!!

N is the epitome of perseverance. Self driven and so sensitive that she can break down at the drop of a pin..She could just start to cry at the thought that mom thinks that it was she who lost the gloves, not that mom has.  She’s is the 100% effort to get 110% done kind-of a girl.

She is in some ways trying hard to copy mom whom she has secretly taken as her mentor. To that end..she wants to have her hand in every jar that is visible…just like mom..with a difference. She wants to be good in them. Suddenly, she’s found a new job..she’s writing fiction stories of late.  Her sensitivity..actually may help her being sensitive and passionate is the big plus of an artists life!

K is such a fun loving shy kid with strong opinions. So many times..she’s already made up her mind about a situation..and very difficult to get her to change her mind….just like her Mom!! She loves to take life easy. A very self satisfied child. She understands people…personalities very well for her age. Doesn’t’ let herself trust people easily.

She’s the type who may actually not loose her glove but, wouldn’t tell that to mom coz, as mom is busy babbling, a lecture about safe keeping to her..while she’s thinking .. “How do I convince wasn’t me..or, was it?!”

Each ones voice has such a distinct characteristic to it and yet, each of their voices are equally melodious. P has such a strong weight in her voice, while N can take her voice easily through different frequencies. K’s voice is like that of a cuckoo’s call. I can go on like this..specifying each of the 3’s distinct personas.

So,  clearly,they are 3 different personalities to me..Its obvious to us parents and to some of our friends and neighbors.. Luckily, my family, Extended and Close..had taken this treatment of their individualities..with a lot of grace and interest. Well, they ought to! Its family , one expects that from family, right?!

There are a few friends and their children who refer to the girls by their names…Some kids call me…

“PNK’s mom!”  (I just wrote PNK for brevity..they do say each of the names!)

and some who don’t. They just refer to them collectively as “The Triplets”, “The Palle Sisters”, instead of calling them PNK, and I respect their choice.  Because that’s what my children are, they happen to be triplets and they are the Palles! 

Again, this issue adds a whole new dimension to this topic,

“What’s in a Name?”. 

Isn’t it important for your friends to know you by your name?! Another delicate matter, that can be explored in another blog by itself…

But, the other day, I learnt that this collective reference to my kids has been taken to another level. Actually, It had taken a turn for the worse?!

A friend..very frivolously told me that they refer to my children as "The Flamingos". OMG! Why?!  And since she was saying that to my face..I knew there wasn’t any bad intention. She was not even trying to mock..or, Was she?!

Flamingos have always been associated with awkwardness and clumsiness!  There are lot other connotations of this society..Its associated with wealth too..but, in a vulgar way. This metaphor accentuates..shallowness, vulgar ostentation.

When someone’s yard is flocked with flamingos, they’ve been chosen for social derision…they’ve been picked out to be ridiculed!   Although this bird does look beautiful, The Pink Flamingo has been used to showcase, American’s materialistic culture in some economic essays.

And what about the flock mentality of a Flamingo..just mindlessly following each other without much thought as to why!  On a recent vacation trip, I had for the first time, seen first hand, this behavior of the flamingos at a bird, you could understand this mom’s anguish..  I wondered, were my children perceived with such a mentality?

As I described earlier..these, were 3 individuals, with minds of their own, trying to explore the world in their own way..they don’t repeat what their sibling did! Nor feel the compulsion to. They behave or follow each other just like any other sibling in another family would?!  Normal 9 year would say.

You know all that effort we put in, choosing the right names for them…at the hospital..out of that long list we had made…making sure their names are not going to be mispronounced or sound  close to any word that could sound ridiculous…and we end up with this situation.

We’d also enlisted the help of an very nice Indian intern who was well aware of how Indian names could get contorted causing anguish to the kid.. in school.

So, maybe this friend had made an honest mistake in the choice of a metaphor... And I did sincerely try to look it that way, that, she had meant to tell kids are beautiful..but, its hard to ignore what u know!

Imagine saying this!

“Oh look!  The Flamingos are playing outside!”  about my children.  Even if you keep the tone of mockery aside..does it even sound nice to address children so?

On the same note..if one said..

“Oh look! The Palle kids are playing outside!”

“Oh look! PNK are playing outside!”

I wondered, why would anybody go through this effort of choosing Metaphors, or Names, to call my kids differently?!  Were they nameless?!

Aren’t P….., N…, K….. pretty names? And easy for an Indian to learn too? 

Even the term “Triplets” would do!


It also reminded me of the casino by that name..or a similar situation where the girls at the playboys mansion were referred to as "The Bunnies!"  Would they have named my children so…if the kids had hopped around cutely?!

Names are a big agree or not..statistics have shown it.

It reminded me of this thing from “Freakenomics”. It was about a women who named her daughter “Temptress”. And one day Temptress, was a woman and she stood in front of a judge for a crime she had committed..The judge questioned her mom..”Is she keeping up to the reputation of her name..Is that what you had in mind, when you named her so?”

I know I am overreacting at this point.

Got me thinking of the point … I made at the beginning.

You know what’s the biggest downside of having more than 2 kidsIt’s too much of a hassle, for your friends to know each of your kid by their name?!

Most of them are too intimidated by this situation of being exposed to children born together. They are unable to distinguish one from the other. they are too bewildered of how they could handle this gracefully....I am not in their shoes to understand their position, just like they aren't in my shoes to understand mine. So, maybe that’s the issue?!

PNK  do look similar just like most normal 9 year old sisters do, they mostly wear similar clothes(The reason for which, can surely wait to be explored in a different blog entry!), they know the same stuff that a 9 year old would know, they are similarly talented..they attend the same activities, as toddlers , they liked the same things, like barbies and tea parties, their anxieties are similar to any 9 year old’s, they have same neighbors, and their parents have the same expectations from them as any parent would expect of 9 year olds... Even their teacher...

So, maybe,all this similarity is intimidating.

Suddenly, for the first time I genuinely appreciated why they've been placed in different classes...since kindergarten.

I remember during the year they had joined kindergarten...there was a piece of me that felt sad because from then on...these three children of mine, are never going to be able to share a class together. I had told myself that it was all for good but, couldn't get my heart to agree with my mind, with the situation.

If I had been given a choice, I would have tried to keep my children together for another year..because they had found comfort in each other's company since their birth..That was the only way they knew to be and it would be taken away from them..suddenly, one fine day of September?! Just didn't seem right, fair, at that point.

But, in the end, it sure was for good. It had helped them develop into different personalities altogether. They each have different friends now, and different best friends. They each have their own rapport they display with them, they each have the attention of a different teacher..(If placed together in a classroom, can you imagine the teacher referring to them in class as "Triplets" or "Palle Sisters" ?!) or, getting confused and marking one's grade to another or taking the lower mean of the grades of PNK together, and assigning that to each of them?!

Endless possibilities one can conceive of this situation!

So, I guess readers, what I’m trying to mention here is I understand the enigma my friends face, and respect that they refer to our children collectively, but, I personally would never refer to any child by any metaphors, or, call them by a name other than their own. however beautiful, No!..Fauna?! No!! 

Doesn’t feel right to me. It disrespects the kid’s individuality. That which the kids at this point is struggling to build. To disparage them by calling them by another name?!...Especially, something as ridiculous as Flamingo?! Every parent tries to choose the best name for their child..and we need to respect that..and teach our kids to respect it too.

Do my readers feel the same too?! Do you feel like I am overreacting?!..I would surely like to know your opinion.

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