Son ... Whatshisname?
love my children dearly, I just can't remember their
Humor by Suzanne Pearson
I used to consider myself reasonably
spoke in complete
sentences. I went to college. I even could answer questions
on Jeopardy - at least during "Teen Week."
Then I had kids. Oh, the warning signs had been there. I'd
watched friends have babies, then kiss their brains good-bye as though
intellect had been carried away with the placenta. My mother even
tried to warn me in her own subtle way. As a teenager, I'd stare
at her in disbelief (as only a teenager can) and say, "When, exactly,
you lose your mind, Mom?"
She'd calmly reply, "Oh, somewhere around May, 1971." I knew, of
course, that was my birth month. But surely she was referring to
her distress over the Nixon Administration!
Several years later and a dozen IQ points ago, my husband and I,
blinded to the warnings, decided to procreate. And true to the
nature of God's laws, I subsequently lost my marbles.
I suppose it isn't so much the fact I can now barely answer the
questions on Sesame Street, let alone Jeopardy. And it doesn't
really bother me I've forgotten to buy aluminum foil the last 37 times
been to the grocery store, even though 18 of those times that was the
very reason I went.
What bothers me most is one shameful, inexplicable brain malfunction
that seems to rest on motherhood like a curse: I cannot remember my
Oh, sure. I remember them right now. That's because my
children are, at this moment, sleeping. The problem is when the
A: awake, and
B: in my presence.
That's when I have no idea what their names are. Or more
specifically, I know the names; I just don't know to whom they belong.
My husband and I named our three precious sons Caleb, Jonah, and
Silas. How difficult can these relatively easy names be?
Besides, there are only three of them. One would think I have at
least a 33 percent chance of calling out the right name. But
always manage to call out, either in whole or in part, the wrong name.
It usually goes something like this:
"Hey, Jo, uh, Cal, uh, Si, uh, what's your name again? Well,
whomever you are, come here."
My seven-year-old Caleb, uh ... um, yeah, that's it, recently asked me,
"Mom, why can't you ever remember my name?"
I smiled warmly at him and answered, "Honey, I love you with all my
heart. I would lay down my life for you. It's just that
sometimes, I don't know which one you are."
He'll be in therapy for the better part of his life.
My only solace is the fact I'm not alone. My husband is one of
four children, and I haven't heard my mother-in-law call any one of
the right name since the late '80s. She even throws in the dog's
name every now and then.
I have a friend who named all four of her children names starting with
"J." When she brings these children over to play at my house, the
real fun begins. Add a generous portion of Jessica, Joshua,
Jamie to a solid chunk of Jonah, and mix well. In about 40
minutes, you have 8 servings of confusion.
The kids start getting rowdy, and before I know what's happening, I
hear myself yelling, "Hey, J-J-J-J-J-UUUUUHHHHHHH ... CALEB! Knock it
OK, so he'll need therapy and antidepressants.
But the worst episode by far happened recently. We were sitting
around the family dinner table enjoying some quality time of forcing
children to eat.
I turned to Caleb and said, "Jonah, eat your dinner."
Oops. Try again.
"Caleb, eat your Jonah."
No, that's not right ...
"DINNER, EAT YOUR CALEB!"
I kid you not; I actually called my son "dinner." If you doubt
me, ask my husband, who laughed hysterically at me for the next ten
might not remember due to lack of oxygen to the brain). Caleb
just sat in bewilderment and thought about what he'll tell Oprah one
Jonah, the four-year-old, leaned over to me sweetly and said,
"Mama. He's not dinner. He's Caleb."
I abandoned the meal and went downstairs to watch "Deranged Mothers
Week" on Jeopardy.
The morals of my story are as follows:
1. Never again should we mock George Foreman for naming all his
children "George." His wife is the only sane mother in America.
2. How wonderful that when our children become believers, their names
are written in the Book of Life. I'm hoping that will bring some
comfort to my boys: Whosit, Whatshisname, and Hey-you.
3. If your child's name starts with a "J," I'm very sorry, but he will
not be invited to Jonah's birthday party. My brain can only
handle so much, you understand.
© 2006, Jace Carlton. All International Rights Reserved.