Reese Witherspoon Shows Us Why You May Not Want to Give Your Kid a “Tricky” Name

When most parents-to-be start thinking about baby names, they tend to stress over the same kinds of things: Is it unique enough? Is it TOO unique? How will it sound when it’s said aloud? Will there be a million other kids with the same name in their kindergarten class?

What many of us don’t tend to picture is the frustrated look on our preschooler’s face, as he or she tries to string the letters of that unique, but super-hard-to-spell name we spent hours selecting for them.


If that story sounds familiar, actress Reese Witherspoon feels your pain. She took to Instagram earlier this week to share a photo of her 4-year-old son Tennessee, who’s had a rough go of things when it comes to spelling his own name.

“When your name is TENNESSEE, it’s a bit tricky to learn how to spell it,” wrote Witherspoon. “#PreSchoolProblems.”

Honestly, I feel for this kid — Tennessee is a tricky name. (All those n’s and s’s!) By the look of things, it seems like he’s got the beginning down pat — but after the first three letters, he was either at a loss for which letter came next, or … simply ran out of room.

I’m willing to bet that after watching his classmates scribble their short and sweet names down, he had at least one fleeting moment when he wished his name was Will or Jack, too. And I can totally relate — when I was growing up, my last name was Stimpfle (pronounced STIM-ful). Yes, try that on for size. For a kid who’s just learning how to write and sound out letters, it isn’t the easiest thing in the world to comprehend that some letters are just silent. (I can clearly remember thinking to myself, “So, wait, they are there, but you just kinda skip over them? OK … “)

When you’re a kid, you just want to be like everyone else. Nobody wants to stand out — least of all with a name that no one can spell. But hey, even if I did have to spell out Stimpfle for years until I took my husband’s surname, I reached a point where I was proud to do it; so I’m pretty confident Reese’s kid will get there, too. After all, Tennessee is a pretty cool name, and it pays homage to his mom’s southern roots, since she was raised in Nashville.

In the meantime, hang in there, Tennessee — things may be rough now, but at least you’re getting in some much-needed letter-writing practice.

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