"Thanks, guys," said the stylist who's expecting. "That was my boy pick!"
I quickly spoke up saying that Dylan is truly a great name; it just won't work for me.
That got me reflecting once again on the Dylans and Dillons of my teaching career. I've encountered girls with this name, but my trauma involves boy Dylans. Five to be exact. Maybe six. I feel as if I'm forgetting one. (Perhaps I'm just remembering Dylan from 90210. Now he was a troubled guy!) In nearly every school where I've taught, I've met a troubled, ornery, neglected boy named Dylan. Two scared me. One was a joy to work with but got messed up in the wrong crowd. The other two tried to drive me crazy. My heart cried for them all.
What did these Dylans have in common besides their name? I learned very little about most of them because they didn't stick around long, but four of them had been kicked out of school at different times for fighting or making threats or failing classes. The two I call scary got expelled from our high school permanently. My artistic little Dylan who was put in alternative school with all the older boys ended up accused of stealing. One who sat in the back of my class tying himself to his seat and throwing things at girls became a dad before he was 16. Only one Dylan may have escaped expulsion; he just liked to antagonize me during lessons.
My guess is that these boys didn't feel loved. I never met parents or guardians for any of them. I heard bits and pieces about the chaotic home lives they had, but I tried hard not to judge the adults I didn't know. The negative talk all around me made me angry. Teachers and principals were quick to write off these boys. I didn't know how to help them, but it seemed terribly wrong to discuss the kids the way we did. Even if the boys never heard anything that was said, they knew how "the powers that be" perceived them. I tried to beam positive thoughts and use upbeat language whenever I could. But my time with each Dylan was so limited. I felt so helpless.
I don't believe a name can be cursed, and maybe it would actually be a nice tribute to my Dylans to let my child share the name. Son of the sea. (or could it be daughter of the sea?) The sea is magnificent but a turbulent place. I don't want to bring a storm into my family. I can only pray that each Dylan has found a calm to replace the madness.