I’ve been wanting to write a post about this subject for some time, because every once in a great while we receive comments on our site like this:
Please don’t refer to your children as “spawn”. It sounds so disrespectful, even though I know you don’t mean it that way. They either have names, or they are your kids or your children, but not spawn.
I am annoyed every time you refer to your children as “spawn”, the definition of which is: “the product or offspring of a person or place (used to express distaste or disgust)”… You also refer to your daughter as “Piglet”… I wonder how your daughter feels about being referred to as “piglet” now, and named as such for all the world to see (as well as her friends) on your public site. Have you ever asked her? How would you like being referred to as “piglet’ or “spawn”?
Not wanting to upset or annoy folks, I’ve felt the need to clear the air, but it didn’t feel right before I got my hands on the hilarious evidence behind our nicknaming.
As anyone who has ever stuffed a keepsake, momento, or child’s ex-refridgerator-gracing paper into a box (or sixteen) for safekeeping knows, retrieving said items can be difficult.
Traveling full-time can take this task from difficult to nearly impossible.
But recently we invaded our storage unit and made a beeline for the beat-up plastic bin labeled “Mommy Treasures.” The very box that held the documentation needed for this post.
Why we call them The Spawn
Back when The Piglet returned to the nest for her first college summer, the kids gave me a beautiful bracelet and a cake for my birthday.
Along with this note (it’s wrinkled because someone threw it away while cleaning up after the celebration, but I loved it so much that I dumpster dived to retrieve it).
I knew it was The Piglet who wrote it — mainly because it mentions food.
Oh, and I know her handwriting.
The kids were so tickled by my love for the note — and the fact that I so obviously loved it more than the bracelet or the cake — that they began calling themselves The Spawn.
Who are we to argue?
Since a definition was brought up…
Merriam Webster says spawn means:
: to cause (something) to develop or begin
: to produce or create (something)
: to produce young especially in large numbers
— and some stuff about fish and mushrooms.
Knowing The Piglet’s sense of humor, she was probably referring to the fish and mushroom stuff.
It took me quite a bit of time to find the exact definition provided by the commenter above (I finally realized it would be best to Google the exact phrase – duh).
I found it in the Oxford Dictionary of Difficult Words (buried in amongst entries about fish and mushrooms) – at books.Google.com. Unless the commenter owns the aforementioned tome, I’m thinking he had to dig fairly deep to make his point.
So – thanks for noticing?
Early on we decided that for our site — and the book that spawned from it — we wouldn’t be using our adult kids’ real names, so we used their childhood nicknames instead. We are extremely protective of The Spawn’s privacy, and ask for their approval before we post anything that we think may tread on iffy territory.
The Piglet: We’ve always called her that. It might have started as a Winnie the Pooh thing, but I do know that from day one, she was a big eater.
She was a ballet dancer throughout her school years and we would have to double what would be considered a regular family dinner – just so we’d all have enough to eat.
To top it off, she’s one of those enviable people who eat and eat (and eat) and never gains a pound.
She’s fully outed herself as our daughter, has written for our site (see examples here and here), leaves comments as The Piglet, and still refers to herself as such in family situations… she’s just fine with the moniker.
Decibel: The girl is loud. When she sings, it’ll blow your hair back. Also, the name is kind of pretty if you strip it of its meaning.
So it stuck.
On a side note, throughout her formative years I often heard from folks about how sweet and shy she was.
I could never quite drill it into people’s heads that she was, in fact, the loudest person on the planet.
Then they got to know her better. And their hair blew back.
The Boy: You’d think that it was because he was, well, the boy – but you’d be wrong.
His first flight instructor, a gruff Texas native, never, ever, referred to him as anything but The Boy.
I was suspicious that this was because he couldn’t remember The Boy’s name, but by the time The Boy was in high school, they were together so much that I knew that couldn’t be the case.
We gave up and started calling him The Boy too.
Do The Spawn Mind?
Decide for yourself (we received this e-mail as I was writing this):
“In celebration of mom popping us out and thus being able to celebrate Mother’s Day, we would like to invite you to a sunny, deck BBQ brunch at Decibel’s house.
We will take care of the menu – you can assume the grill will be fired up. -The Female Spawn”
YOUR TURN: Does our usage of The Spawn annoy you? Isn’t that note the best birthday present ever? Don’t forget to share your sweet/funny/weird family nicknames with us!