Meagan said to me yesterday, “Have a shave as we’re registering the baby today”.
I said, “Ok”.
It was only as I was halfway through shaving and staring at my foam filled face, in the mirror, did I think, “Why do I need to shave to register the name of our son?”
At 3:23pm we rang the bell outside the registry office, in our local town.
The door opened and standing there, eyebrows rasied as a cue for us to explain ourselves, was a serious looking old school headmistress type lady, in her early seventies.
Taking her cue Meagan explained, “Hello we have an appointment to register our son”.
“Your appointment is for three twenty yes?”
Surely she wasn’t going make an issue of us being 3 minutes late. It took us 10 minutes to find the entrance to the office, which was hidden inside a library.
She nodded, to show us she knew we were late and even though its was only three minutes, we were late.
She instructed us to, “come on in”, with a tone that suggested she’d never been late for anything in her life.
We walked into the office and both took a seat in front of her supremely tidy desk, which had a green name plate sitting on it, with the golden letters spelling: Mavis P. Wilson.
Just after we’d sat down she said, “Take a seat please”.
We shuffled on our bums uncomfortably. Was she underlining the fact that we shouldn’t have sat down without her permission or was I imagining it?
As we got into proceedings, Mavis with a stern look, asked, “Are you married?”
I knew this question was required but Mavis made it sound personal and for the first time in a long time, it felt as if Meagan and I were truly living in sin.
I wanted to say, “Yes in fact we’re very married and religious too actually. We pray four times a day, have a shower at least once a day and always brush our teeth too”.
“No we’re not”, Meagan said.
Mavis looked at us for a few seconds, then lowered her head to tap the details into her computer.
Mavis glanced up at Meagan, “Are you the biological mother of this child?” as disinterested in our baby as she was in us.
“Yes I am”, Meagan declared as formally as the question was delivered.
Then, as if I didn’t exist, Mavis asked, “Do you want the biological father’s name to be on the birth certificate?”
HELLO I’M SITTING HERE!
“Yes”, Meagan responded.
She then turned to me and said, “Are you aware, that by putting you name in this birth certificate you are financially responsible for this child until he is 18”.
“Really? Oh in that case I’ll give it a miss then”, I joked and made a fake move to get up out of my chair.
Mavis didn’t laugh, she didn’t even attempt a smile.
In fact, she looked at me as if I had just spoken a foreign language, that would have been beneath her to learn.
I think Mavis is one of the most serious people I’ve ever met.
She moved her eyes towards her keyboard and tapped at it again.
Meagan said, “Has that ever happened before, seriously I mean?”
“Yes I’ve had dads get up and walk out without signing after I’ve reminded them of their financial obligation”.
How can any sane thinking human being be happy to conceive and give birth but choose to have no responsibility after that?
Did they just fancy seeing their name printed and spelled correctly on an official looking document, other than on a warrant for their arrest?
The choice for the name of our boy, had only been arrived at, after a lot of long, hard, tedious searching. I’d spent several a late evening scanning list upon lists of boys names.
We’d tried several alternatives to the one we now have but none seemed to suit him.
When we revealed our choice to family members, it received a reception that ranged from mild amusement to claims that it wasn’t a proper name.
Never the less, we decided to stick with it.
So when Mavis asked, “And what name do you intend to give your baby?”
I sensed it was a little hard for Meagan to say it out loud.
What would happen if Mavis, a registrar for, “twenty eight and a half years”, refused to register it on the grounds of it not being a, “proper name?”
Meagan paused, took a deep breath then said it, “Monty…”, no laughter, more importantly no objection from Mavis, so she carried on, “…Adam Waite”, not even a blink of the eye.
It actually looked like she was going to register it.
“Have you registered many Monty’s before?”, Megan asked.
“Not me personally”.
“Have you ever refused to register anyone because of their name?”, Meagan inquired.
“No, even though, I’ve had people register football teams as names but I have refused to the order of names given to a baby”.
“What do you mean?”
“The babies initials spelled something obscene”.
“Why would parents do this?”
“They didn’t realise”.
I then tried my best to think of names whose initials would make for obscene acronyms.
Sheila Helen Isobel Thomas
Peter Edward Norman Ian Smith
Are two that spring to mind, I’m sure you can do better.
Just as we were about to leave, Meagan asked, “Would you mind if you posed with Monty for a photo with the birth certificate?”
Then all of a sudden the stern, cold, upright officious registrar who’d dealt with us for the last ten minutes melted away into a smiley warm looking grandmother.
“Ohhhhhhh of course I will!”.
We’d just found the one simple way to make a serious person smile. It’s amazing how a newborn baby can transform even the sternest of people into mush.
It was lovely to see Mavis smile, it made us both smile.
A smile is such a simple and enjoyable way to feel happier.