Friday, April 9, 2010

the name game

The other day, Justin and I asked for baby boy name suggestions on Facebook. Friends and family have weighed in with suggestions both serious and joking. I've been visiting nymbler and making pointless lists. The thing is, naming a child is important. With Claire, I had two rules:

1. Name cannot - absolutely cannot - appear anywhere on the Top 10. Or 25. Yes, cannot be in the Top 50. We'd like a name and I'd visit the Social Security site to check its rank.
2. The middle name should be Colombian. Latin American. We wanted the middle name to honor the culture into which the baby was born.

Claire's name was ultimately suggested by my mom. She said she'd always wished she had named a girl Claire. (She had five chances, and I do wonder if I'd be someone a little more polished, a little more resolved with a name like Claire). I liked Clara but Justin and I decided that Claire was nice. Our nanny, Francis, calls Claire Clara, and I like that.

I think Claire was ranked 65. Even that was a little iffy for me. I am a Sarah and graduated in a small class of 92 with seven or eight other Sara/hs. I did have a moment of doubt when a friend of mine told me of two baby girls born to friends of his, both named Claire.

Oh, and I think I had an understated third rule: No stupid nicknames. If I give my child a nice name, I'd like them to be called that nice name. This eliminates more names than you might think. Even so, when Justin spoke with his father after Claire was born, saying that her full name was Claire Juliana, I heard my father-in-law say, "Oh, CJ." And I thought: No! Hideous! No, no, no! Initials are not names. Claire is Claire.

So we're sticking to these rules for baby boy. And I've been thinking about the importance of the name we give him since reading this Motherlode post about baby-name regret. So when I run names through my mind, this is how it goes:

Jude. I really like this name. I like this book in the Bible, and I like this name. I also live in a very, very anti-Semitic region of the world and am not sure a little boy named Jude is the best idea. But then again, we'll probably leave before he begins school.

Timothy. Justin's middle name. I really, really want to be able to consider this. But when I think of Timothy, I think of McVeigh's last meal before execution: two pints of mint chocolate chip ice cream. I still like mint chocolate chip, but Timothy is linked to that odd fact which in turn makes me think about what kind of person McVeigh might have been if or if and how sad it all is.

Ziad. For a middle name. I love this! In Arabic, Ziad means enlarging. Not sure what to do with that. Then I googled Ziad and learned that one of the September 11 masterminds shared that name. Well, probably every name is linked to something unsavory (illegal, wrong, frightening, criminal). Will keep looking.

Then there are names ruined by former students. Ask any expectant teacher about ruined names and they'll likely rattle five off without pausing for breath. And then there are names that went to pets first. I like the name Jeremiah with a possible nickname of Miah, but my in-laws have a cat named Maya. I also like the name Oliver, but we had a cat named Oliver. I wouldn't want my son to think I'd named him after an orange cat with a white belly.

So we have names we toss around. I still call my belly Boy. I am comfortable with waiting to meet the little guy before giving him a name, but Justin is a planner and needs to arrive at the hospital armed with a first and middle name to bestow. Whenever we finally choose a name, we'll keep it quiet until the birth. I'll know its meaning, popularity, and whether it risks a dopey nickname. I'll picture it on report cards, resumes, and under yearbook photos and signed in Christmas cards (because someday we'll send those). I'll imagine whispering the name Good night, Mama loves you, and yelling the name Get down here for dinner! And when I finally meet my baby boy, I'll say, "Welcome to the world, ____."

Can't name a kid blank though.


Anonymous said...

just call me sally...

Joanna Goodman said...

good post, Sarah, but I have to say I was laughing out loud about the comment...

"just call me sally" :) I remember that vividly, too funny!

jsmarslender said...

Thanks : )

Clare said...

+1 on the teacher true.

Anonymous said...

After I read this post to Jason, he wanted me to suggest the names Ethan or Wayne.

I agree it is tough naming your child when you are a teacher.

The Siedschlags