Names

The Social Security Administration has released the “name list” for 2007. For anyone not already familiar, they do this every year, ranking the most popular names for each year based on Social Security applications that year.

When I was picking names the first time I became a parent, I was a name site hound! I walked around with the printout of this list, and checked the various popular naming sites regularly. I really wanted a name that was different, without being odd, was pronounceable and spellable, and it would be nice if it meant something. Some of the names I loved were Lauren, Sara and Tess. And then I came across the name B. I had never seen it before, but it met the criteria, and BONUS – it is a combination of my parents’ names. Of the 5 letters in the name, the first two are the first two of my father’s name, and the last 3 are the last 3 of the nickname my mother goes by. That sealed it for me.

And then I met a guy. He hated the name B. And since I hadn’t yet even met my daughter, I decided if he and I were going to be a couple, that I ought to let him have a say, much the same way any other couple would choose a name. So I pulled out my name lists again, and we tried to find common ground. We eventually agreed on 2 possible names: Lauren and K. And while I had previously considered, and discarded, the name K, the only reason I agreed to put it back in the top 2 was because of its meaning: it is my sister’s name. And when we saw her picture, K won out over Lauren, and I relegated the name B to what-if status.

Anyone who reads this (and pays the slightest bit attention!), knows (or has guessed) that I married that guy, but it did not last very long. Yes, I later resented giving him so much say in the name of a child he didn’t even agree to adopt, but as so often happens, a name and a child become so tightly woven that you can’t imagine any other name for her. And so it is with K. That’s her. Not B. Or Lauren, Sara, Tess or any of the other names I loved but didn’t choose.

After my divorce when I decided to adopt again, I pulled B out of the archives. I did consider some other names, but I knew this would be my last child, and I really wanted to use B. So I did. And that’s her. The other names just would not have done.

I do feel compelled to mention that my children had names before I adopted them. Whether these names were merely “paperwork” names, or were actually used doesn’t even really matter. Some will say I should have kept those names, and I know of several adults who have taken back their original names when old enough to do so. If either of my children wishes to do that, I will support that decision. I compromised by using a piece of their original names as middle names. Having meaningful middle names is something that I really love. I feel it’s a waste to use “throwaway” names as middle names (e.g. Emma Grace, Emily Rose — please do not take offense if either or those are your daughter’s names or you were planning to use them). To me a middle name is a chance to honor someone special, declare a connection with someone or something, or to mark a special family moment. And that’s what my kids’ middle names do for them.

When I was born in 1963 my mother thought she made up my name. She had been reading a book and decided to switch some of the letters around in one of the character’s names, and voila! she came up with my name. When I was young, it was very unusual, and people were constantly misspelling and mispronouncing it (despite it being pronounced exactly the way it is spelled!). But around about 1990 or so it started to become more popular. No one today would ever call it an unusual name, although it never hit top 10 status. Actually, in the year my sister was born her name was in the top 10, and yet today my daughter with the same name is the only person we’ve ever met under the age of 40 with it.

How did you choose your children’s names? Does it matter to you if they are considered popular? What about your own name – did you like it growing up, and how popular was it then, compared to now?

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2 responses to “Names

  1. We did consult all the baby name lists, because I have a niece whose name is so common she had 5 others in first grade with her. We actually ended up naming our daughter after my mother and hubby’s mother, and we call her by both names. We were going to give her a nickname, but then she’d go through life having to explain that. I had a similar experience to you growing up, but it was my last name that was unusual and considered unspellable and unpronounceable. I was sick, sick, sick of always having to spell it and pronounce it, so I didn’t want to put our kids through that. We chose not to find out genders either time, so we had to have boy and girl names on the list both times. If baby #2 had been a girl she probably still wouldn’t have a name, because the one I picked was not hubby’s favorite. But baby #2 was a boy and he was named after my grandfather and hubby’s grandfather. That was more tricky because the middle name begins with A and we didn’t want his initials to spell anything weird (like PAM or DAM). But we’re happy with their names and out of 40 kids in the dance recital Saturday, not one other girl had either of her names (but their were 3 Chloes and 4 Caitlyns – with varied spellings of course).

  2. I thought about this later yesterday. I have my grandfather’s old college yearbook. Probably 65 in his class and maybe 20 women. Of those 20, 4 of them were named “Dimple.” Yes, that was a given name in the early 1900s. One was Daisy Dimple and another one was Dimple Delilah. I can’t remember the middle names of the others, but they were equally without choice in which to go by.

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