Tell me something: what possesses parents to screw up the way their children's names are spelled? I've noticed lately that it seems to be more and more common for people I know to spell their names in the oddest ways. I'm not talking here about names that have always had variations in the ways they're spelled, like Katharine/Katherine/Catherine or Sara/Sarah or Ann/Anne (why does it seem that more female names than male names have variant spellings? I've never seen a Robbert or a Timothie). No, I mean taking a perfectly straightforward name like Karen, one everyone knows how to spell, and deciding that one "r" isn't good enough, turning it into Karren, or, perhaps that Catherines shouldn't be the only ones having to say "Catherine with a 'C'" and deciding Caren is a much better way to spell the name. And then there is Carron, a spelling that is fine, I suppose, if you want your daughter to be one mere "i" away from being a crow or the flesh upon which that crow feeds.
Does anyone else live in fear of having to send out congratulatory cards/gifts for new babies when you have not received a formal birth announcement? Friends will call and say, "The baby is here! Her name is Jennifer." In the old days, I would have happily scrawled "Jennifer" across the middle of the pastel-colored (not pink, if I can help it, even though I love pink) envelope. Now I have to worry, "Is it 'Jennifer' or is it 'Jenyfer' or maybe 'Genefer'?" Who wants to get it wrong, to be the one whose gift card doesn't make it into the baby book because she obviously couldn't be bothered to get the baby's name right?
Maybe I'm just annoyed because I'm finding myself having to spell my first name all the time now, which is something I never had to do until I was in high school. Isn't "Emily" the standard spelling? One would think it would be the spelling that comes to mind most often. But no, after knowing me as "Emily" since I began attending the school, someone suddenly decided in the middle of my junior year of high school that I was "Emilie. I got my first introduction to Kafka, having no idea who he was, because I didn't seem to be able to convince anyone that yes, I knew how to spell my own name, that they had it wrong. It took me a year (and multiple crossings-outs and writing it properly in thick, black ink) to become "Emily" again (thank God. I would have hated to have a diploma that read "Emilie." Check out my junior year yearbook, though. There it is: Emilie).
Granted, Emilie isn't that odd a spelling. My mother laughed when I informed her with teenage indignation that no one could spell my name, telling me that someone must have decided I was French. That wasn't really such a far-fetched thought. Many thought that my last name Michie was French, pronouncing it "Mee shee". And really, how could someone whose family spelled "Mickey" "Michie" really complain about the way people chose to spell names?
But still. It's annoying. Recently, I have come across people who have spelled my name Emmalee or Emmily. All right, that first one is phonetically correct and maybe someone was named after her Grandma Emma and Grandpa Lee, or some such thing, but "Emmily" makes me think "Em-Miley," which makes me think of "Smiley," bringing to mind that old Sesame Street character Guy Smiley -- that's almost as bad as being a crow your whole life.
I just don't understand it. If you want your child to be so unique, then choose a name that doesn't happen to have been one of the top-ten most popular names for girls for the past twenty years. Don't take a name that has a perfectly fine, acceptable spelling and screw it up so that your poor child is forced to have to spell it everywhere she goes. I promise you: life is going to be rough enough for your child as it is. You can make it a little easier by allowing her to be like the others, by letting her be a "Karen" or a "Jennifer" or, yes, even an "Emily."