The Naming Ceremony

On a day to the zoo for Miss13’s fourteenth birthday, Miss7 discovered the pure joy in calling things…umm…well…how do I put this…?

“How can you tell it’s a boy hyena?” Master12 asked his little sister loudly.

They were both grinning wide enough to threaten a gorilla so I knew whatever was coming they’d been working on for a few minutes at least.

“Penis!” Miss7 called back at him, nearly causing me whiplash as I made sure we weren’t in company. Fortunately, it was a very slow day at Canberra’s National Zoo & Aquarium, and boy was I suddenly happy about that.

“What sort of monkey is that?” Master12 went on before I could insist he stop.


“Wombats love to dig in the dirt with their?”


“What’s your brother’s nickname?” I asked, because I might have the body of a fifty year old, but there’s a twelve year old kid in me.

“Squashy!” yelled Miss7, not taking the bait.

“Dad’s name really means?” Master12 quickly went on.


They collapsed into each other in hysterics.

It’s difficult to sound authoritative while snickering but I called an end to this excessive and loud use of the word before DOCS’ workers could be contacted.

Still it was only a matter of time before the word popped out again.

Fortunately, our family was alone in our car heading back to the bus. Miss13 had been wonderfully surprised to learn we’d organised for her to hand feed her favourite animal in the world, giraffes. To commemorate the occasion, we’d also bought her a giraffe stuffed toy in the gift shop as we’d left.

“I think I’ll call it Jasmine,” Miss13 announced to the family.

Incorrectly, I decided.

“That was Jazz’s name,” I reminded her. Our Samoyed, Jazz, was originally named Jasmin when she came to live with us. “You need to call it something original.”

“She can call it whatever she likes, Bruce,” admonished Tracey.

Yeah, like that’s worked with anything we’ve ever named in this house.

Naming things is sort of my field of expertise. I named all the children, feigning input from Tracey. I named all our animals (even if Munchkin the cat was forever called Angel because no one listened).

This isn’t out of arrogance or chauvinistic. It’s because Tracey would still be trying to come up with a name for Miss13 if left to her own devices. It’s just not part of her skill set. There’s no chance ‘naming things’ will ever be an arrow in her quiver or a badge sewn onto her blanket.

Me, on the other hand? I start flicking through baby name books and rattling off suggestions within hours of conception.

“What about Alice or Lauchlin or Angus or Mary?” I said, rattling off every name Tracey ever rejected for our offspring. This was her role. “Or Betty or Lawrence or Bonnie or Tabitha or Samantha or Fester or Morticia?”

“Or penis!” came a shout from the very back row of the car.

At this point I thought to ask something which should have occurred to me hours ago – why was she saying this word and where did the idea come from.

“Mum called you a Richard when you said we have to hurry up for the giraffe feeding and nearly ruined the surprise,” explained Master12. “She wanted to know why so I told her it’s because Dick is short for Richard.”

And apparently a little word association and she ran with it from there.

“Is it a boy or a girl giraffe?” I asked Miss13.

“Girl,” she said, presumably wanting to get away from the word penis as much as I did.

Perhaps predictably, Miss7 had that one covered too.

“Vagina!” she yelled giggling from the back of the car.

Over the next five minutes, with the occasional repetitive giggling suggestion from Miss7, everyone threw their ideas at Miss13. Every synonym for stretch, long, tall and high was put forward and rejected. Every character from the Weasley family (except Percy, of course). Every dragon from Burke. Every school friend, teacher, auntie and cousin. It was an intense five minutes.

“I’m going to call her Autumn,” Miss13 said finally, with an air of triumph and satisfaction, “because it looks like she has autumn leaves all over her.”

Smug pleased to say that’s exactly what I said when I suggested it.

Meet Autumn
Miss14 fed the entire giraffe family, including a young adolescent calf.
To make up for being on the road for much of her birthday, Miss14 got to go nuts in Beechworth’s famed lolly shop. We had to race through, but Beechworth will be worth coming back to. For starters there’s a bakery which needs my support.

Raising a family on little more than laughs

– this post is not sponsored or gifted –


  • You can’t not stop for icecream at the Beechworth Icecreamery! Also, please don’t miss my hometown, Benalla for our famous Street Art tour! We’re a large family, homeschooling and hoping to travel in the next few years also, enjoy following along and love that you are enjoying our beautiful part of the country ❤️

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