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What’s in a name?

2008-02-04 - 10:16 a.m.

First I want to take a moment to mention that Linda/Sundry is scheduled to be having her next little guy by c-section today. This kicks off the round of babies expected in my personal blogosphere. Also expecting at the same time as me are my regular reads Marilyn, Zoot, Jessamyn, and Julie. “Big deal,” you may think, “That’s only five people.” Well let me tell you that that is a big slice of the journals/blogs I read almost religiously. Oh sure, others come and go, but if you add only a very few others to this list, you’d have the solid core of who writes what I read. It’s been almost eerie, in fact, that we’ve all had overlapping pregnancies. And it’s not like I only started reading them because they got pregnant: this list also represents some of my oldest continuous reads, that predate my and their baby-making plans. I feel like the new cure for infertility.

Want to have a baby? Lure me to your blog.


I have mentioned this before, but we’ve had trouble picking names for this next offspring. More and more though, there’s a clear winner emerging. The whole process of name-picking feels odd to me this time; almost foreign. You see, I had Grommet’s name picked out for years. Choosing what to name a girl was not an issue because when I told J what I’d name a girl if I ever had one, he instantly loved it too. So, her name was pretty much set in stone before we even conceived; heck, before we even started trying to conceive.

This time there have been lists. Names have been considered (mostly by me) and rejected (mostly by J). It’s not been a case of “This is it!” so much as “Well, this is a good name. Certainly we haven’t found better.” We’ve considered whether names sound good with pre-set middle and last names (by early agreement, girls get my last name and boys get J’s, with the opposite last name being the middle name). We’ve considered whether a name is too close to Grommet’s name in that it will be seen as a theme if read together (hint, we can’t pick a name that’s a plant, an herb, a colour, or too “hippy”). Is it too trendy now? Too common in that we grew up with a half-dozen of them? Too outlandish? Will they have to explain and/or spell it for the rest of their lives?

Many people have suggested names that are perfectly serviceable, but just don’t grab us. While you don’t want to insult someone, it’s hard not to look completely uninterested when someone tells you their favourite name is one that leaves you cold. It’s a struggle not to dismiss, to cite a specific example, “Avery” out of hand. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with being named Stephanie, Jennifer, Lydia, David, James, or Peter, and I don’t bat an eyelash when I meet people (lots of them) with these names, but it’s just not “us”, y’know? And we like the common names kids are being given these days like Emily, Noah, Hannah, etc. (well, I had a dog named Emily when I was growing up, so that one would have been out for me no matter what) but if a name is found in the “top baby names of 200-“, chances are we want something more unique.

For the edification of those that have my kind of taste (unusual but simple, not too trendy, slightly – sometimes more than slightly – hippy), and are having a girl, here are the names that made my short list for girls. (I may post our short list for boys once we've officially named the Biscuit.) We don’t plan on having more kids, so we’ll never use any of them; feel free to nab one:

  • Skye
  • Raine
  • Ocean (yes, this one’s a bit “out there” but for some reason I just love it)
  • Sierra/Sienna
  • Grace
  • Hudson
  • Jordan
  • Noelle
    and the one that we probably would have picked simply because neither J nor I really minded it…
  • Parker
For those that don’t share my taste, I’m sure you’ve now been properly horrified at the names I might have saddled a daughter with.

(Quick side note: I reacted very ungracefully to my spider-obsessed, goth-to-her-core sister’s declaration that she had dibs on the name Arachne if we had a girl. Not because she’d stolen a name I wanted, but more in the vein of the exact reaction I hate from other people, namely, “You’re not seriously going to name a child that are you?”

I know, I know, it wasn’t nice or tactful or circumspect, or anything I would have hoped to be. But I seriously thought she was joking. I mean, it’s one thing to have a long-standing hobby – in her case, to keep tarantulas as pets and have multiple spider tattoos and choose online aliases and email addresses that are centered around spiders – but it seemed like another thing entirely to give your child an almost-unheard-of name that essentially is your hobby. It’s like a cat-lover naming their daughter Bast or Aelurus, or a horse lover naming their son Pegasus or Palomino. Talk about a name she’ll have to explain and spell for the rest of her life… My sister, for the record, was quite offended by my reaction.)

At any rate, picking a boy’s name hasn’t been the struggle it would have been to agree on a girl’s name, but nor have we had the long-standing name choice just waiting in the wings. I’ve looked at lists, and thought about what sounds good when introduced on his own and with his sister, and bounced names out loud off of J, and I think we have a “default” winner. My concerns are: a) that I’ve heard it more lately than I had for a long time and don’t want to end up picking a name that we think of as unusual… only for him to end up in a classroom with several others of the same name and b) that people will shorten it to what it can potentially be shortened to, which just wouldn’t sound right with J’s last name. At. All.

And the other short form that we’d probably use and sounds good to us happens to also be the name of a friend of ours, who will probably think we’ve named our son after him. This is a risk I think we run only because it’s a slightly unusual name – if we’d chosen James, none of the many, many James that we know would have suspected it was to name him after them. Even then, there’s nothing wrong with our friend thinking we’ve named our son after him… except that it just so happens I dated this friend once upon a time. It matters not that I was 16 and it was therefore over half my lifetime ago and we’ve just been good friends ever since and I gave a reading at his wedding and we socialize with him, his wife and their new boy whenever we can work it into our mutually busy schedules, I’ve already had one friend say, “Didn’t you date a [insert name here]?”

Still, we like the name and almost all of the few people we’ve tried it out on have approved (not that we need the approval, but it’s nice to get some reassurance when one isn’t totally convinced about a name yet) and agreed it’s a “good name”. I’m thinking it’s about 85% set at this point, and would take a bolt of inspiration in the form of another, perfect name to change our minds.

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