On the weekend Monkey and I returned from 10 days down in Mullumbimby staying with his dad. I’d had a little op and needed some help with childcare while I was recovering hence the visit. Neither of us have family up here so we need to be try and be family for each other in times like this otherwise it is just too hard. So for those of you that don’t know, Mullumbimby is in what I call “Hippie Heartland”. Everyone is all peace, love and mung beans down there. If your clothes aren’t made of cheesecloth and you’ve brushed your hair in the last 2 weeks then you look a bit posh.
I took Monkey down to the park a few times while I was there and had the benefit of meeting a number of local kids. These were their names: River, Leaf, Rain, Zen, Soul and Onyx.
I am deadly serious. I’m not exaggerating or joking to make the story sound better. Every single kid we met had what I would call a hippy name. Not one of them had what I would call a mainstream name. Now let me be clear, I’m not dissing the names. People can name their kids whatever they damn well please and I’m not judging. Well maybe I am in the privacy of my own brain but that’s not what’s happening here. Besides, Monkey has an uncommon name himself so he who casts the first stone and all that hoo haa but it’s not a hippy name. It’ s just a name that isn’t common. Why did we choose it? We thought it was a combination of modern and old sounding (it is in fact a very old word) and it had strength to it. And we just thought it sounded cool. That’s it. To be honest not a lot of thought went into it. I had a list of names and we went through that list when I was 6 weeks pregnant. We both liked “Monkey” and so we said ok let’s call it that if it’s a boy. Problem solved. We never thought about it again (except for when my mother in law harped on about how much she hated it but that’s a story for another day).
One of the things that was attractive about it though was the fact that it was relatively uncommon. I have met and heard of other kids with his name but it’s not often that this happens (of course it happens a lot more now that we’ve used it. It’s like buying a new car, all of a sudden everyone is driving YOUR car everywhere). Anyway my point is that the fact that the name allows an element of individuality was attractive to us so I can only assume that those that are naming their kids River and Rain and Onyx are looking to achieve the same thing. So I wonder how they feel when they all rock up on the first day of school and there are 3 other Rivers in the class. Do you think that might piss them off a bit? I reckon it would. From what I’ve seen these are parents who are dissing the mainstream. They (and by extension their kids) don’t want to be considered the same as the majority. Ever. Even if the majority in this case doesn’t equal the usual mainstream. The point is that they want an element of difference in expressing who they are. And believe me they do go to quite some effort to achieve this. Even though they look like they haven’t washed for a year they actually put a lot of effort into achieving that bedraggled hippie look they’ve got going on. You can tell because they don’t look homeless. That’s what you look like when you truly don’t make an effort. And if you think that I’m not right then take a good look at a homeless person next time you see them. And then look at a hippie. That get up is as carefully put together as the Chanel handbag and Jimmy Choo shoes on the more mainstream fashionista you see on the streets of Sydney. It really isn’t that unique.
For true uniqueness is exceptionally rare.
The truth is, like it or not, there are a a bunch of people hanging out somewhere in the world (hell, probably the country or even state) who are just like you. And it’s human nature for you to set off to find them. We all want to feel like we belong; that somebody gets us. So if you name your kid River and move to hippie heartland then you just need to accept that here, in your own little space of the earth, you and your lentil loving offspring are going to be pretty much just like everyone else. Well you’re probably going to have the same names at any rate. And that, that makes me laugh inside just a little bit.
Ok, ok, a lot. It makes me laugh a lot.