Saturday, June 21, 2008

Just James

Our middle son is "Just James". The story behind that appellation begins prior to his birth.

Joyce and her sister Tina were pregnant at the same time, and naturally in the course of Joyce's and Tina's conversations the question arose, "What are you going to name your baby?" All three of our sons had been potential "Nancy Dianes", but in regard to the other possibility, Joyce informed Tina, "If we have a boy, we'll call him James Martin!" thus employing the maiden names of the child's two grandmothers.

Tina instantly protested, "You can't use 'James', I already spoke to Grandpa James and got permission to name my son James."

Needless to say, Joyce failed to see the compelling force of this argument, especially since our James was due in August and hers in November. Besides until the genders of the babies were established, it wasn't much of an issue. But, as luck would have it, both children were indeed boys. Tina (being unable to expunge the name "James" from our child's birth certificate) dropped her claim that having cousins with shared first names was unworkable; she likewise named her son James.

Oddly enough (just to add an extra dollop of sarcasm to an already dripping narrative, I simply must add) Grandpa James never did get around to reproving us for stealing the name that he had deeded to Tina.

Thereafter, to avoid confusion, whenever we'd gather with Joyce's side of the family we'd add the middle name in addressing our respective Jameses. This compromise seemed to work well for about three years, but it soon became apparent that this accommodation failed to take into account the sensibilities of all parties with a vested interest in the name James. One day our three-year-old middle son defiantly declared through his clenched baby teeth, "I'm not James Martin; I'm just 'James'!"

Being the insensitive lout I am (though, to quote John Cleese, "Oy got bettah" - or was it Eric Idle?), I responded to my most tender-hearted son, "Ohhh! Well, I'm so glad to meet you, Just James. Do people call you 'James the Just'?"

Just James (living up to his dubbing as James the Just) was incensed at the injustice of his own father taunting him. But hampered by the limited debating skills of a three-year-old, he could only counter with, "Nooooo! Not 'Just James' - just 'James'!" I'm now ashamed to admit, I found his reply hilarious ... until I noticed the tear trickling down James's flushed cheek. It only adds to my shame that at that time I didn't feel as ashamed of myself as I should have.

James is now a strapping Army lieutenant and he seems to have survived my less than perfect parenting without excessive psychological harm, but I have to wonder, Do deep wounds inflicted on children always manifest themselves? In confessing my fault, I'd like to take this opportunity to beg James's forgiveness. But therein lies the downside of my having a longstanding reputation for being a sarcastic jerk. I fear James would perceive I was merely once again taunting him, this time with mock remorse.

So all I can say is: I have a lot to answer for when I report for my eternal reward. It would serve me right if, when I mumble to the Lord, "I'm sorry," He replies, "Well, I'm so glad to meet you, 'Sorry' Bob. Do people call you 'Bob the Sorry'?"


Roses said...

Awesome story!

If we lived closer to each other, I think you and I would have sent our children to the same shrink eventually.

(If you'll excuse me, I have to deposit some money into the children's therapy fund, now.)

Jerry said...

It only adds to my shame that at that time I didn't feel as ashamed of myself as I should have.

You should be ashamed, I think.

Bob the Sorry

I will have to remember that one.

We will see you in a couple of days. Drive safe.

The Friendly Neighborhood Piper said...

Hello Bob the Sorry! Glad you stopped by The Table, pull up a chair anytime.

yeah,sorry i left you hanging on the cold frothy story, it kinda took a backseat for some reason...

oh yeah, i play the same 'sarcastic parent' role all too well myself...more often than not to the detriment of the topic conveyed.

SuperGurl said...


just catching up, been out of town. what a great story. hey, your kids look to be doing great, it only helps those of us currently inflicting similar damage. so thanks!!

i can't believe you got the faith rest drill reference, i did not expect anyone but my mom to get it. did joyce go to berachah? that is far out, i grew up there. more than saved me, paved the way for me. the incredible colonel theime. be good.

Hula Doula said...

Ok so I checked yesterday from Greece and today from Rome. Do you feel special yet??!!
I think I will address you as Bob the Sorry from here on out. I kind of like that. And for the things that you think were funny and you really aren't that sorry about you should be called...Bob the I'mnotsosorrybutamstillgigglinginthecorner!! Such is the life of sarcastic parenting.
By the way.....I loved the story

buffi said...

Is this sort of like when my boys come and say, "I'm hungry!" and I reply, "Hi, Hungry! I'm Mommy." and then they get all mad and say, "I'm not HUNGRY!" and I say, "Well then go back outside and play" and they get all mad and demand a snack and we go over it about 40 times until they give up and go back outside?**

Also, think we can get a group rate on that therapist?

**this sentence brought to to you by the RUSMOA (Run-on Sentence Makers of America)(I am their president and I'm really good at it, just ask my high school English teacher, he hated me but I can still make one heckuva long sentence!!!)

joyce said...

Your sister amazed me with her literalness that is SO similar to YOURS. Wow. Its genetic, not engineer based. Your sister said her son would say, "I'm Joking" and she'd reply, "Hi Joe King, nice to meet you." Maybe she will add more when she reads this one.