Thursday, September 06, 2007

We coulda picked a boy's name, easy.

Naming a baby is hard.

I've named every doll or stuffed animal I've ever owned (and am still the proud owner of Jennifer, Kimberly, and possibly Lisa, who reside in a box. somewhere.) I used to play school (mostly by myself) and pretend to be the teacher. I had an old log book where I'd have full names listed for my 32 students. I selected the names for each of our pets.

I've always loved names. I like letters and I like seeing how things look and sound and flow. I have the name book that my mom used to select my name and my brother's name. I like seeing what she highlighted but didn't end up picking.

Like most girls who were born in the 70s, I knew (know) my fair share of Jennifers, Melissas, and Sarahs. Even though I didn't have a top 10 name, it was common enough and I loathed being "Twirl LastInitial" in school. My name is unisex and it was a pain to be "theGirlTwirl" in class. My mom spelled my name in a less common way, and so I had that to correct that as well. On one of my name plates (you know, the things taped to the desk) my teacher added an extra letter to the end of my name and when I corrected her, she colored over the letter and made it into a house. I liked that even less than my last initial.

I used to want to change my name (to, um, Morgan Fairchild, which I thought sounded lovely even though I had no idea who she was at the time.) I have since legally added the extra letter to my name to make it the most common spelling. I like how it looks now and I correct people much less frequently.


I think about these things a lot when considering a name for my daughter. I'm committed to the most common spelling of any name and roll my eyes at the "creative" spellers (so sorry mom, I know you thought it was pretty!) Among my top 20 names, there was only one gender neutral name. Would she care if she ran into a boy with the same name? I used the SSA list as a starting point for name gathering and, much to the irritation of helpful-name-suggesters, have refused to consider anything in the top 20. Would she care if she had to use her last initial? I've pored over popularity ratings and trends for each name I've considered, trying to determine if what I'm thinking of will become "the next jennifer/madison/emily."

P thinks I'm nuts. I took the top 1000 for 2006 and began eliminating. I whittled the list down to 50 or so before I let P begin eliminating. He got us down to 20. From there, I've had a list on the fridge since we found out she was a girl. I've liked mulling over the possibilities. People ask if we have a name yet and seem surprised when I tell them that I'm just enjoying the process of choosing. They usually smile at me and say, "you have time" or "well, some people don't decide until the baby is born" or something like that because they don't believe me that I don't want to rush the decision.

I've let P do most of the crossing off since the original list was mine to begin with. I think we're down to three now. As much as I've enjoyed thinking about this, I'm ready to have a name selected. I'm feeling a little panicked that there isn't one clear winner standing out yet. I know it works for some people, but I don't want to take a list into the delivery room with me. But I want to love what we pick and so I'm second-guessing myself on the final three. I want it to be right.

If I loved one of them, wouldn't I know? Or is it something you can grow into?

I could totally ramble on about this for many more paragraphs (initials! nicknames! my love affair with the letter A!) than you'd probably care to read. I may have already. I really ought to just. stop. typing.

Ridiculously obvious conclusion of the day: The reality of naming a human is much more complicated than naming a doll or a pet or an imaginary classroom of students.

8 comments:

carosgram said...

I agree that the name you are given is very important. There can be lots of hidden meanings or shades associated with a name. I will tell you that every Sean/Shawn with red hair I had in my classroom was a real pill. Most teachers run into this issue. Somes names get eliminated simply because of children we have met. I named one of my daughters a name that had ethnic heritage involved as well as the most pleasant memories of a student. She hated the name in school as "everyone has a dog named ---". Oh, well. You do your best and take your chances.

r.a.w. said...

Good luck with the decision. If this ever works for us, I am probably going to change my mind about the name a million times.

Cat, Galloping said...

Gatito's was the only boy name that we both liked. I have no idea what we'll do if we have another boy someday! But I like your methodology.

(A seems to only like boy names that members of his family already have. Gatito's name is his brother's middle name, though I don't consider that he was named after him.)

Irish Girl said...

Hey, naming a person is a big job. I think it's only natural to think through it and be sure. I imagine the *right* name will become clear before her arrival. You'll know!

I totally want to know the names you're considering :) I'm sure they are all lovely!

Sarah said...

we're in almost exactly the same boat after almost exactly the same process. except i also made this ridiulous line chart tracking the popularity of our top names since the 1900. and i'm not in love with any of them except the one my husband is not on board with. and then when he says that one would be okay i fall out of love with it. i'm starting to get a little anxious!

sharon said...

I so totallly agree. We're 24w, expecting a boy. The thought of naming another human being, our son, is so overwhelming. What if he doesn't like the name? What if it doesn't fit? We think we have a first name, but can't find a middle name. How important is the middle name? It rarely gets used, but shouldn't it all flow well? I could go on and on also, GL to you. I've enjoyed reading your blog.

Furrow said...

The name thing is such a pain. We were in agreement on a top girl name from almost the beginning, but we kept it a well guarded secret until just a few weeks ago. At first we worried about it becoming popular (there's really no danger of that) and then we worried about people disapproving.

Most people haven't heard of it (even though it's an old name used by a fairly popular author from the early 20th century), but no one seems to hate it. The one bad thing is that if you double one of the letters, it is a slang word for "whore" in some Spanish dialects. My SIL is Mexican, so that kind of bothers me. Her family will call her by her middle name.

good luck!

Karen said...

I find naming children to be a TREMENDOUS responsibility. I don't love my name. There's nothing wrong with Karen, it's just not the name I thought best suited me. And do you know how many frickin' Karens there are in this word? Actually, oddly enough, in Elementary School, I never had another kid in my class named Karen which I think is simply astounding, because it was a pretty popular name when I was born. Still, there are a LOT of frickin' Karens in this world.

I don't want my children to hate the name. I don't want other people to wonder why on earth I would have named my child some goofy name. I don't want to wonder late if I should have picked some other name instead.

And so I'm completely paralyzed on the name issue. We've got three little babies ready to come out within the next three weeks, and we haven't got a single name picked out. We don't know if we're having boys or girls. We don't have a "short list" even. Nothing. No names. It's not for lack of trying. It's just... I'm paralyzed by the responsibility we're facing. (And I'm the opposite of you... I'm much more inspired by girl names... my worst fear right now is we'll have a boy, because I'm finding it MUCH harder to pick out potential boy names!)

So I feel your pain, but you should definitely take heart in the fact that I am seriously pathetic and you absolutely are completely on track!