So, that’s the naming ceremony done and dusted, then.
I’m really glad we did it too, despite the expense. On the one hand, it’s effectively a token ceremony which has no legal standing. And yet it allowed us to include the godparents we wanted, beyond the restrictions imposed on us by the Catholic church (maximum of two godparents, at least one of whom must be a confirmed and practising Catholic). Plus we could be very specific about personalising the readings and promises so they meant that much more to us.
Overall, I thought the whole afternoon went really well. Yesterday was a surprisingly lovely October day, and Heather had done a great job picking out a venue with plenty of space for our friends’ various kids to run around. People mingled well, and genuinely seemed to enjoy proceedings.
I thought the readings we picked out – one for us (‘A poem for parents’), one for Zac (Bob Dylan’s ‘Forever Young’) – worked nicely, and thanks are due to T and R for agreeing to read them.
Admittedly, it would have been nice if Zac had been a bit sunnier and up for bonding with his godparents, but it was very hot and he does have yet another cold bunging him up. On the bright side, at least he didn’t howl through the entire thing like he did during his baptism two weeks ago. And he did provide a couple of great comedy moments; firstly sprinting away on all fours at high speed just as the registrar was explaining about his Chinese names meaning ‘mighty, strong and energetic’, and then getting clonked over the head with a toy car by A (the future wife), which I think every person in the hotel – never mind the room – heard. Still, good practice for married life, I suppose!
I guess it’s worth recording for posterity the promises Heather and I made:
– To love Isaac always and cherish each day with him
– To nurture Isaac’s growth and development, from infant to boy, and from boy to man
– To fuel Isaac’s curiosity and teach him to appreciate the world in all its diversity
– To encourage Isaac to become a caring and valued member of society
– To support Isaac in pursuing his dreams and fulfilling his potential
– To guide Isaac in choosing his path in life, and to be proud of the man he becomes
And here are the promises Zac’s godparents signed up to:
– To help and support Tim and Heather in their role as Isaac’s parents
– To promise to be there for Isaac, as an advisor and a friend
– To promise to encourage Isaac in his hopes and aspirations
– To promise to share in Isaac’s successes and help him deal with life’s challenges
– To assist Isaac in living a happy and fulfilled life
What’s in a name?
One of the things we agonised over before Zac was born was whether the names we gave him would fit him as a person.
As already mentioned, his Chinese name, Wai Kin, means ‘mighty, strong and energetic’, which could not have been more appropriate (although we do occasionally wish we had given him a name which means ‘quiet and sleeps a lot’). And Isaac comes from the Hebrew word for ‘laughter’; if there is one thing which characterises him more than anything else, it is his loud, infectious (and downright dirty) laugh.
I guess the names fit just fine, then.
Godparents = supporting adults
Thinking about what our expectations of Zac’s godparents – or ‘supporting adults’, to use the appropriate non-denominational term – are has made me reflect that I need to be more actively involved with my godchildren than I have been previously, but that’s a whole different story.
In truth, I’ve never really got my head around the whole godparent thing. In a modern society where the church plays a lesser role in people’s lives than it once did, the concept has become increasingly nebulous. What exactly is the ‘supporting’ role? Clearly it goes beyond birthdays, Christmases and Sunday school, but how far? Being there to support the parents in times of need, sure. (As long as all appointments are booked at least a month in advance, you know how it is with our busy modern lifestyles.) Providing advice and encouragement, no problem. (Although most kids will already get plenty of that from a combination of parents, grandparents, teachers etc.)
Do you see what I mean? The role of a godparent lacks a clear job description, and in many ways you are providing little more than a safety net to the support network which naturally develops around a child anyway. But that in itself is no bad thing, I suppose. Just agreeing to help wherever and however you can is no insignificant commitment.
At least we were specific in how we are hoping Zac’s godparents will support him. T & C will provide spiritual guidance; A (that’s A’s mum) will offer both motherly and medical advice; Peter is responsible for educating Zac about music; K for football & films; finally, R will help him manage his currently meagre savings through the economic crisis.
I’m not sure how much that helps them. But it helps clear some of the fog for me, anyway.
Not much else to say, really. At the risk of resorting to a hackneyed cliché (too late!), I guess you have to take things a day at a time. And now it’s time for me to go off and cherish today with my little boy.