As regular readers know, my daughter Casey is pregnant. My wife Barbara and I will welcome a granddaughter into our lives on May 25th, if Barbara and Casey don’t kill each other first.
You see, there have been some disagreements.
Baby names, for one thing. Barbara firmly believes that the baby should have one by now, and that she, Barbara, should know what it is. Casey disagrees. She and her husband Alex think they should have a short list of names prepared when their daughter is born, but not actually assign one until they see the kid and get an idea of her personality, besides goopy, which is bound to be the first impression.
In the absence of a moniker, Casey has made liberal use of the pronouns “her” and “she” when talking about the baby. Barbara, on the other hand, prefers to call her granddaughter by name, even if she has to make one up in order to do so. She has been calling Casey’s belly Sydney, which may or may not be on the official list of possibilities. Although Barbara once got a quick glance at an early draft of this list, the grandparents have not been privy to any updates. In fact, the name list is now protected by bank-level security, including passwords that are probably unlike the ones many parents use, since many parents have passwords that include the name of their child.
However, the secrecy surrounding the official list has in no way prevented the child’s grandparents from suggesting additions to it.
For instance, when Barbara learned that the baby would be delivered via c-section on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend, she threw “Betsy” into the ring, in honor of Betsy Ross, who she somehow associates with Memorial Day rather than, you know, Flag Day. Alex countered by saying that if they were inclined to name the baby for the holiday weekend, her name would be “Pool Open.”
Barbara has also been a fountain of Jewish traditions and superstitions, most of which she appears to have made up. “If you’re naming the baby after someone,” she told Casey, “it should start with the same first letter as the person you’re naming her after. But if you don’t like that, you can use the letter before or the letter after.” As an example, she mentioned her sister Karen, who, she said, is “named after my Aunt Irma,” thus demonstrating that Barbara’s parents may not have had a firm grasp on the alphabet.
As soon as Barbara invoked this sacred Jewish law, Casey’s fingers began flying across her smart phone. “There’s no such rule,” she announced seconds later, displaying the website she had found. It’s much more difficult to invent stuff these days than it was for our parents; our kids can instantly look things up and call your bluff.*
Names haven’t been the only bone of contention between Casey and Barbara. There has also been a difference of opinion regarding the baby’s first party, and whether the baby should be invited.
Evidently, there really is a Jewish taboo against giving the baby gifts before it is born. It’s not a Jewish law, like the one against eating pork, an actual religious prohibition which our entire family ignores with great abandon. It’s more of a cultural superstition dating back to medieval times when giving gifts to a child before birth was believed to draw the attention of dark spirits. Of course, back then, there was a very high infant mortality rate, not to mention a dearth of high-end strollers for which mothers could register.
Still, even though many of today’s dark spirits reside in Washington D.C., some Jews won’t do baby showers or decorate the nursery before birth. Orthodox Jews will not so much as utter the name of a baby until that baby is born because it is inviting evil into the child’s life.
If that’s the case, our grandchild better not be named Sydney.
So there could be no baby shower, or any other pre-natal celebration. Even if Jewish superstition permitted a gender reveal party, it would have been out of the question for Casey, since most of the civilized world learned, via Facebook and Barbara’s telephone calls, of the baby’s gender moments after Casey and Alex did. And there wasn’t even so much as a spoiler alert.
Of course, at the same time that happened, a bris was eliminated. This was a very good thing, since, previous to knowing the sex, Casey had already informed Barbara there wasn’t going to be a bris. Evidently, circumcisions have fallen out of favor with millennials, much like non-craft beers. This news was not well-received by Barbara, although I don’t know if it was for religious, medical or aesthetic reasons. So it was a good thing we were able to forgo foreskin friction.
With the circumcision circumvented, the party discussion moved on to a baby-naming ceremony. This is a non-penile Jewish ritual that technically requires the baby to get a Hebrew name. Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be a Hebrew equivalent of a female Sydney (should that end up being the baby’s name), although there are plenty of equivalents for “Sy,” which I didn’t even know was an English name and, in any case, what the hell kind of Hebrew name is “Carmela?”
So, Barb and Casey finally settled on a “Sip & See” Party, which I think sounds more like a bachelorette party with male strippers. As far as I know, Casey’s Sip & See party will be a bunch of women staring at a baby while drinking wine from sippy cups. And apparently, all the attendees will have to swear they’ve been vaccinated for whooping cough.
In the meantime, Barbara keeps calling the kid Sydney (but not Carmela). Except when she refers to her as “my child.”
This grandparent thing may be a problem.
See you soon.