‘What’s your name again?’
With so many kids and parents, is it any wonder I get a little confused at times, says Karin Schimke.
When you’re just you, and maybe your partner, you have a manageable number of names you have to keep in your head. Add two kids to the mix, and you have a square root, cubed kind of a sum  of names to hold in there.

I’m so glad for the ability to store people’s names with their Job Title on my phone. I don’t have any managers, CEO’s, heads of finance, or ministers listed - only ‘Judin’s mother’ and ‘Rachel’s dad’.

Sometimes my brain just cracks under the strain of names.

Like the time I said to a woman called Lee-anne, ‘Is James better?’ She looked at me blankly, so I helpfully described the ailment that caused her son to have to be fetched from school earlier in the week. She said: ‘Oh, you mean Stuart?’

Lee-anne is sitting next to Lisa who is the mother of Matthew. This Matthew goes by ‘Matthi’, but the other Matthew, whose mother’s name is Lynne, doesn’t.

There’s Xolile, who, half way through Grade 3 - probably because he was so gatvol of his name being mangled by non-Xhosa speakers – changed to Patrick. His best friend’s name is Paul, but sometimes he goes by Athinkosi.

There’s Ansela and Ilse and their mother Anneke, and a girl called Anneke whose mother’s name is Anja.

There’s Siya, the woman, and Siya the man. And Troye the boy, and Troye the woman.
There’s Raa-id, and Riaad and Ziaad and Zaid.

There’s Joshua F, Joshua H and Joshua S, Camerons of various sizes, hues and personalities, a number of James’ and several Nicholas’s.

A handful of Hannahs

Over in the girl’s department there’s Hannah S, Hannah F, Alexa S and Alexa F (I kid you not), two Chloe’s, two Phoebe’s and three Lilly’s (with varying numbers of ‘l’s’ in their names). They’re various hues of skin colour from light pink to very dark brown, which causes more, rather than less, confusion.

The mothers are all Lynne, Lee-anne, Yvonne,  Cherine, Shahida, Cherisse, Linda, Lisa, Michelle, Liesl, Debra, Sonya, Cheryl, Sherryl, Shanaaz, and at least five Fatimas.
I love Vuyiswa, Unita, Arda and Zdenka, just because their names have don’t start with L or have a ‘sh’ sound in them.

The fathers are mostly Marks, Matthews, Brendans, Murrays, Craigs and Robs. The delightfully, mercifully different ones are Ulf, Tita, and Kuben.

Years after my son left pre-school I bumped into the mother of a friend of his from that period. We used to meet often at the park for picnics, and once or twice, she and I went out to the movies. But I was buggered if I could remember her name, other than that it started with an A. So we had a happy, kissy reunion in which I avoided saying her name.

Then came the clincher.

‘How’s...?’ Crap. I had forgotten her son’s name. The name was somehow irretrievably knotted into a tight ball of all the boys’ names I had ever had to remember.

‘How’s, er, your son?’

She was gracious, giving me a quick run-down on his progress.

And I knew I wasn’t alone in my anguish when she asked: ‘And yours?’

Do you have trouble remembering names? Is there a trick to it?

Read more by Karin Schimke 

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