Things that are difficult to do: picking out a name for a girl, sitting through 20 minutes of Around the Horn on ESPN, 8th grade Algebra, birthing a child without drugs. (Those things are listed in order of difficulty, for those unaware).
People, names are important. Like really super super important. The name you give the child is the name they will have to live with for all of their lives, unless they head down to the courthouse when they turn 18 and spend $50 to change their name to something else. I assume most people are as lazy as I am, so legal name-changing is off the table, which makes the task of choosing the *perfect* name even more daunting.
And because we didn’t find out what gender Kid Two will be, we’re tasked with choosing both a boy name and a girl name. Some of you are thinking, “Well, that should be super easy, just use the girl name you had picked out for Kid One.” And to you people I will pose the question: Do you even know me? The favorite girl name two years ago was for potential Baby Girl 1. The names for Thing 1 were chosen early, but became the names over the course of that pregnancy, because I could feel the personality radiating from my uterus. And it seemed a little weird for me to use a “leftover” name for Thing 2.
You should know that when it comes to names, I am picky. Very, very picky. Spelling, pronunciation, number of syllables, current popularity, characters with the same name, pets with the same name…those are all things my overly OCD mind considers. I don’t like common names that are misspelled for creativity. If you like the name Bob, then spell it BOB. Don’t spell it BAUHB, because your kid is going to have to explain that for the rest of his/her life. I should know; my name is definitely not unique or unusual, but there are 487 ways to spell it and its variations, and I rarely have someone get it right the first time.
Our conversations usually go something like this:
Person: And your first name?
Person: And do you spell that C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N?
Me: Sigh. No, it’s K-R-I-S-T-I-N.
I’m sure you’re thinking, “Oh big deal, you have to spell your name.” I have to spell my name a lot. Because most people don’t just say, “Oh, is it IN or EN?” They think I actually said Kiersten, Christian, Crystal, Cristina, everything but what my actual name is. And so, after 31+ years of name spelling, my conversations now go something like this:
Person: And your first name?
Person: And that’s K-R-Y-S-T-I-A-N-N-E?
Me: YES! Amazing, no one ever gets it right on the first try.
I give up. Sometimes I’ll tell them my name is something simple, like Jill or Sue. I don’t dislike my first name; I dislike the frequency with which I am forced to spell it for people. And no, I won’t go by Kris, because after Rule One of naming (it must be a standard spelling) my Rule Two is this: NO NICKNAMES (other than cute nicknames I give my kids, but that’s not for roll call at Harvard in 2021).
I’m not going to name a child Elizabeth and call her Betty; if I want a Betty, I’ll name her Betty. Nicknames are confusing to me. Our children won’t have to worry about their first names every being converted into nicknames because Rule Three on my Crazy Train of Baby Names is this: One syllable first names only.
I know, weird right? We like one syllable. We have a one syllable last name, and I think the BOOM BOOM of simple syllables sounds strong. And if there’s anything my kids will be, it’s strong and independent (and probably smartasses, because that’s an inheritable trait, as I’ve learned with Miles).
Rule Four: The name must have some sentimental appeal. Our son’s name is Miles Clark. Miles for Miles Davis, my favorite musician, and Clark for my grandmother.
Rule Five: Unique. The name needs to be unique, but not weird. When Miles first started school, his infant room had 12 babies and five of them had variations of “Aiden.” The other 7 were usually McSomething. I went to a teeny tiny school in a teeny tiny town, and I still shared my name with at least one other classmate. Of course, no matter how unique your name is, you’ll probably run into at least one other person at some point in your life carrying the same name. When I chose Miles, I had a specific and sentimental reason. I did not know that Miles was a name shared by 1. A college football player and 2. A character on some semi-popular sci-fi TV show that has since been canceled. And so, lo and behold, Miles actually has another Miles in his classroom now. My victory is this: my Miles was born first. But you know what? I have seen at least two other Miles in my Facebook newsfeed. Clearly this is a name that could be popular. I hope not, but if it blows up in five years, well I guess I can appreciate my own unique coolness for choosing it first, and also in knowing that it was chosen for a special reason.
Rule Six: Not weird. When we consider names, I always like to put Dr. in front of it, just in case I birth a neurosurgeon. Then I also consider whether the name is too stuffy, because if my kid wants to be a pineapple farmer in Hawaii, it still needs to be a cool name. Dr. Miles and Pineapple Farmer Miles both sound pretty awesome, in my opinion. I couldn’t name my son Blackjack Dangerson because no one would ever take him seriously as a pineapple farmer.
We also avoid names in the Top 100 list in the Social Security database and baby name sites like Nameberry. So yes, I have a lot of rules, but like I said before, the name is super important.
I have found that boy names are super, super easy. It took maybe two weeks to narrow down our boy names, and only a few more days to decide on what we liked for sure. Girl names? Totally different story. I feel that with a girl name, I could be a little more unique and different, and she could pull it off, but I still want something that fits our other requirements.
If you give your kid an exceptionally offbeat name, like Apple or Moxie Crimefighter (both actual celeb baby names, FYI) then it works just fine if you happen to be a celebrity. If you are celebrity, I’m 99% certain that your child’s future will be different; the children of Mick Jagger aren’t exactly donning police uniforms or drawing blood or selling insurance. Your child could have a relatively normal career, like me, in which case having a super weird name would just mean constant explaining (like having to spell it all the time isn’t bad enough…)
Trust me, if I were a brilliant and well-paid writer/musician (like I am in my dreams) then I would totally name a girl something like Barefoot Stevie Juniper Moonbeam. But we would probably also be living in a cabin in the mountains, and I’d never wear shoes and do lots of twirl-dancing and singing and tie-dyeing in my spare time.
The rest of our kids would be named after jazz musicians and Grateful Dead songs and plants that flourish during Summer Solstice, and we’d all shake tambourines and make fruit leather. Then on Saturdays, we’d go into town for Dairy Queen because I’m only like 60% hippie and I need chocolate sauce – the REAL chocolate sauce, none of that carob-raw honey-seaweed stuff. I still need sprinkles in my life. And yes, I am fully aware of how specific my daydreams are.
But I’m not a brilliant and well-paid writer/musician. I have to wear shoes and normal-ish clothes and I cook things like homemade chicken nuggets for dinner. So this potential baby girl needs something less Moonbeam-y and more Murphy Brown-y (but not Murphy; too many syllables and I don’t like things that end in “Y”).
So we have names. Both a boy name, which was super easy and chosen MONTHS ago, and a girl name, which has changed half a dozen times but we sort of think is definite now. And both are names that we think are cool and unique and strong and pineapple farmer worthy. And of course I’m not telling you what they are, because only three people know other than Evan and me, and even that is three people too many.
Let’s be real…I will probably have to give my favorite girl name to our next cat, because after all these months of deciding, I have sealed my fate in birthing yet another boy. Fo’ sho’.
Moonbeams and fruit leather and Y chromosomes,