This piece is written in response to Irene Waters blog topic, Times Past – Punishment
I’m a Baby Boomer living in an Australian capital city.
Firstly I’d like to say I was lucky, I think in my family no-one got any pleasure from punishment.
The first punishment I can remember came when I refused to eat my dessert, quinces and rice, I was shut in the bathroom and told I couldn’t come out until I was ready to eat it. I don’t remember how that ended but I do know I don’t eat quinces or sweet rice.
It’s interesting to me that I can remember only one individual instance of being smacked by Mum though I know it happened more often and when I heard, “I’ll give you 5 fingermarks on your backside” I certainly knew what that entailed. The instance I do remember was a smack across the face for making my younger sister cry just before Dad was due to get home from work.
I remember “having my backside tanned” by Dad when I slammed my bedroom door in a rage and it broke the ceramic door plaque. I felt I deserved that one but I still feel a sense of injustice over a school punishment. In Grade 3 we used to get stamps in our handwriting workbooks if our writing was very good. I was sitting next to a boy when I saw he’d coloured one of his in so I did the same. When the teacher saw what I’d done she was angry, I protested that I’d copied the boy. She gave me two whacks across the palm with a wooden ruler and told me one was for colouring it in and one for lying.
I think we were kept in line more with words than fear of being physically hurt and Mum was a master of sarcasm. Dad used his own hurt to make us feel bad. I remember once being so excited when I saw Dad bring home my big brother’s Christmas present that I raced off and told him what he was getting. I don’t know how Dad found out but he looked at me and told me to get out of his sight. That really hurt.
With the birth of a new grandchild coming up in a few months the subject of names has come up again. I started to wonder if the name given to a child makes them more likely to develop certain characteristics.
I’m sure Mum had most say in naming us and I was registered, “Rosemary Sue” but to Dad that was too fancy and I was always called, “Sue”. I wasn’t Suzanne, Suzanna or Susan, just Sue and I was used to that. When I went to a private secondary school Mum convinced me to let them all think I used my first name. It never sat well with me and as soon as I left school I always introduced myself as “Sue”. I’m not someone who likes to stand out, I don’t like parties and big celebrations much preferring smaller family get togethers. If I’d been called “Rosemary” all my life would I have been different? Would I have seen myself as someone much more complex and interesting? If I’d chosen my own name it would probably have been something like “Josie “ or Rebecca” to me they’re nice to say, they have a bit of mystery to them, I wouldn’t have been one of six in a class but nor would I have been constantly explaining my name or spelling it out for people.
My own children seem to suit their names perfectly and because the names have been around for hundreds of years people can’t tell their ages just by hearing their names. When I hear the names “Summer, Rainbow and River” I always think they’re children of 1970s “Flower Power” parents. Some children are lumbered with names from TV series and others share names with offspring of famous parents. I think it’s lucky for baby girls that no-one famous has decided Gertrude, Ethel, Myrtle or Gladys are the way to go.
Now, back to my original point. If my next grandchild is named Sebastian or Clementine will they be flamboyant, spirited and artistic? Would a Bruce or Sam be down to earth, thoughtful and athletic? Stephen or Alice, would they be a good communicator, self assured and academic?
Choosing a name is such an important task for new parents, names come ready loaded with associations and expectations. I guess that’s why some people prefer their nicknames.