Rite of passage parenting: Games and names
I both love and hate the Olympics. At the Opening Ceremonies, I’m excited to watch all the nations marching in. But by the close of the Games, I feel like they’ve gone on forever. This year, I watched much more of the competition than usual. No, I wasn’t any more interested in the sports, but my oldest son and daughter-in-love had gone to London to attend the Games. Most of the time, I was scanning the crowds to see if I could spot them, but I never did.
I had to laugh as the announcers tried to pronounce some of the athletes’ names. I would have to say a weightlifter from Iran named Saeid Mohammadpourkarkaragh won the gold medal in this year’s Olympics for the longest name. His name may be common in his country, but all I can think about is him learning to write as a kindergartener. As you know, younger children usually write bigger than adults. I’m picturing little Saeid sitting at his desk when the teacher gives the first instruction: “Print your name in the corner of the paper.” With his tongue hanging out, he laboriously begins printing M-o-h-a-. He runs out of space, turns the sheet over, continues printing and again runs out of room. Two sheets later, he finally has his full name printed out and no space (much less time) to take the test.
And what if, also as a small child, he needed his name put on the back of a shirt? I’m picturing the letters spilling over and running all the way down both sleeves. Still, Mr. Mohammadpourkarkaragh doesn’t have the all-time record for the longest name in the Olympics. That’s held by a skier from the 1956 Winter Olympics. His name—and I’m not making this up—was Max Emanuel Maria Alexander Vicot Bruno de la Santisima Trinidad y Todos los Santos von Hohenlohe Langenburg. I would hate to have been the announcer forced to pronounce that name for the crowd of cheering fans. Poor Max would have made it all the way to the bottom of the hill before I managed to choke out even half his name.
Of course, we also have the opposite end of the spectrum. This year, we watched a Chinese Olympian by the name of Lamusi A. You got it. His last name is just A. When the athletes lined up alphabetically, he would always be first in line.
If you’ve been one of my readers for any length of time, you know the importance I place on names. Mom and Dad, please seek the Lord about what to name your child. A name is the one thing that stays with a person from birth to the grave. All children should know why their parents gave them their particular name and what that name means.
I have four new young friends who each received a letter from me about the meaning of their names and the importance of growing into them. Martin is one of them. Even though he’s very young, it’s never too early to instill worth and value into children’s lives by teaching them about the meaning of their names. I wrote:
I like your name. Did you know that “Martin” means “warrior”? It’s one of the masculine traits of God. “The LORD is a warrior; the LORD is his name” (Exodus 15:3). There have been many great warriors for God who fought for the truth. Martin Luther was a warrior like this. Martin the Warrior! May you grow strong in the Lord. The battle awaits!”
I believe every parent should write letters to their children giving the meaning of their names. And if you tie those names together with Scripture, those letters become even more powerful. The time you spend writing them will be time invested for eternity.
The other day, I had lunch with Nate and Hannah. Nate is the youth pastor of Tahlequah, First, and they’re expecting their second son. I encouraged them to go ahead and begin writing their baby a letter that includes the reason they chose his name. I suggested they send this letter on the day their son is born so he can have his actual birth date on the envelope.
One day, when the child begins to move into those troubled teenage years and starts wondering about his identity, they can give him the letter. He’ll have the privilege of reading something positive his parents wrote about his life many years earlier. I suggest that every parent and even grandparents write to their children and grandchildren about their names.
I wonder what kind of letter Mr. and Mrs. Mohammadpourkarkaragh might write to their son. I’m not sure, but I guarantee it would be … long.