I happen to know a few good men named Robert and today I’ll take a few minutes for a lil’tribute to one of them: our friend Rob LeBlanc of Grimsby, Ontario. Rob is practically-family: the-man-of-a-friend-of-a-sister-of-a-wife to me. He also happens to be a skilled ice-fisherman (although Charles Darwin taught me that I am unlikely to ever meet an ‘unskilled’ ice-fisherman). Rob has recently earned ‘muchos respectos’ in my eyes because he was sharp enough to quickly connect a few dots and toss up the nickname ‘Wallaby’ for Wallaby.
Wallace is named ‘Wallace’ for no especially significant reason. Kate and I took weeks and weeks fumbling through name ideas (as pre-parents do) until one day we stumbled on ‘Wallace’ and something just ‘stirred’, and there was no further fumbling. As they say (or they should), he was always going to be Wallace, we just had to get there.
For the record, my son’s name has little to do with the York University men’s volleyball program or with the movie Braveheart (... another of Wally’s nicks’, and an awesome movie - although strangely enough I’ve never heard any of my British-born friends or family agree with that.)
The only tiny little actual intended significance of the name Wallace is an association with the history of a little-known science called ‘biogeography’ – which Kate enjoyed learning back in the day. And you know how I feel about science.
And from day one I liked the sound of ‘Wally’. It sounds 'kind' doesn’t it? Like a nickname that a person could easily chose to ‘own’. And for me it has no connection to the robot from the kids movie which I have not seen or with the ‘Where’s Wally?’ children’s book series that everyone here mentions but in North America was called ‘Where’s Waldo?’ Why would they re-name it?
But I digress... it so happens that I usually call my son ‘Wallaby’ these days, and that began with Rob. I remember first reading it in an email and being stunned - frozen for a minute - Rob had uncovered in a single day something unnoticed but readily available to me for upwards of a month. It was right there. I loved it.... and yet I had somehow missed it completely.
The experience reminds me of an old friend from my undergrad days who often seemed to find cash lying on the ground. It was right there but everyone else missed it. I like to think that it was because Chike enjoyed the process of a relaxed walk rather than a rushed-foot-commute like the rest of us. Maybe Rob is also a ‘relaxed walker’.
In any case, ‘Wallaby’ fits our young’in like a glove. Wallabies are ‘miniature’ (and cuter) versions of kangaroos. They are of course native to Australia and, like kangaroos and Wally, are born ‘too early’ and need to chill in mom’s pouch and grow for a little while before taking on the real world.
Incidentally, the Aussie men’s rugby team is also: ‘The Wallabies’. Here is their logo:
I think I’ve said before that every national team gets a different ‘animal’ here. It is never ‘the national men’s rugby team’ as we have in Canada, but instead just ‘The Wallabies’. And as far as rugby teams go, the Wallabies are pretty awesome.