OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - A local couple has given their first child a name that is spelled really weird. The couple claims their intention was to make the child unique, but experts agree it will just bring the girl untold misery throughout her life.
Brad and Sue Carpenter, a couple in their early twenties, said they were motivated by a need to make their daughter stand out in life. Both parents have what they consider to be boring and frequently used names, and wanted to do something different for their child.
"We wanted something really cool and unique," said the father. "We were going to give her an unusual name like Moonglow Carpenter or Chocolate Cake Carpenter, but then my wife said, 'Hey, let's give her a regular name but spell it differently.' It took us a while to come up with the right name and the right spelling, but we think we nailed it. We're really excited."
The Carpenters tried and rejected names like Jane spelled J-A-Y-N-E and Veronica spelled V-U-R-U-N-E-E-K-A to settle on Sheila spelled C-H-E-E-L-A-H. Sue Carpenter is enthusiastic about the name, saying, "We think Cheelah has just the right mix of phonetics that will really blow people's minds. All our friends go wild when we tell them about it. And I can guarantee she won't run into another Cheelah in her school."
But Allan Walker, a child psychologist, is one of many experts who disagree with the practice of using oddly-spelled names. "These names have existed for hundreds of years and now people want to start changing them. With celebrities naming their kids things like Jor-El and Apple, there's a lot of pressure these days to be unique. But there's nothing wrong with having a name similar to someone else. It's almost inevitable. These parents just want to change things for the sake of changing them. It's stupid."
Experts agree that Cheelah Carpenter is expected to spend her entire life correcting people who mispronounce or misspell her name and ultimately resent the unnecessary burden her parents imposed on her.