Cats are very much like you and me.
So first, your memory I’ll jog and say: A CAT IS NOT A DOG.
T. S. Eliot ~ Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats
Children are Jellicle Cats.
Children have a name their parents gave them.
My mother called us “honyocks.” My father called us “gremlins.” We did not take it seriously, especially when my mother flourished a broom above her head for emphasis. She was always good for a laugh. The only time we took our names seriously was when our parents called us by our full name (and when you are Catholic, that can entail up to four monikers.) When that happened we knew we were in for it.
In The Book of Rhino, Elbert thought his mother spelled the devil’s name E-L-B-E-R-T. This shows you that mothers (a) know who the devil is, (b) know how to spell his name, and (c) know how to use the name they give you to let you know you’ve biffed it.
(Note: There are other names that parents give to their children, but I will not speak of them. Like Grizabella, their stories are too sad for children to hear.)
Children have a name given them by other children.
These are children’s play names that they put on as much as they do their play clothes. We went by Hog-Nose Peso, False Fingers, Beady Eyes, Glassy Eyes, Snoggy Monstral, and the Nutts.
(Note: The Nutts went by the names their parents gave them because it was considered enough just to have the last name Nutt.)
Our parents never called us by our play names. In the first place, they did not know what they were because we never told them, and in the second place, if they did know them and used them, it would have been utterly weird—almost as weird as them playing with us.
Here I must mention in passing that, despite what is shown on television, parents do not play with their children. I mean, it’s really too ridiculous. What do parents or grandparents know about children’s games, games like Froggy and Mountain Dew? Would they pretend to thrash Beady Eyes under the streetlight? What about walking the fence, riding bikes on the roller coaster, or having grasshopper fights. I cannot picture either of my parents doing said activities; I have a large imagination, but it’s not that large. Children’s play names along with their play games are just for them.
(Note: We did play poker with my father, a minor concession because he paid in cash.)
(Note: We never actually told Snoggy Monstral his name to his face because he would have beaten the crap out of us—he was that type of guy, hence his name.)
Children Have a Name They Give Themselves.
We tell no one our secret names. Why? In the first place, they are secret; (that’s rather the point), and in the second place, we sometimes do not know ourselves what our secret name is. It took me years to learn my secret name. I had a suspicion of what it was, but for a long time, I considered myself unworthy. Then I read The Journey of Desire by John Eldredge and his story of the sea lion who had lost the sea. After that I embraced my secret name. Odd how things like that work out.
All children deserve a strong name.