Monday, September 1, 2014

What's in a name?

Naming a kid is hard. Between agreeing with your partner, coming up with a name that doesn't randomly rhyme or sound Seussian, and trying to make your little angel stand out, it's rough going. Not to mention when you throw in the opinions, solicited or not, that you get from anyone who you tell.

I'm a lot like my parents in that I thought ahead. My dad had a name selected for his first son long before he met my mom and she for her first daughter. John Anthony Walke and Carylyn were named before they were born. The only thing that changed was the spelling of Carylyn from Carylynne or something else wackadoo like that. 

The rest of us got saddled with whatever popped into their heads. My next brother's middle name was courtesy of the area they lived in at the time, near the Ethan Allen farm. I'm not sure where my youngest brother's name came from. Either way, any of the boys, had they been girls, would have been Laura Louise. 

Having been gypped out of Laura Louise twice, once my dad realized I was a girl, he thought "ok, Laura Louise it is!" Mom said "Oh, no, I don't like that name right now." So Talitha Jane was picked. Dad rebelled, he didn't like Talitha, said it was too difficult (or something) and they compromised and he picked my middle name, Joy. 

As a kid, I really didn't like Talitha. Joy didn't bother me, it seemed kind of kitschy, but whatever. No one called me that except when I was in trouble. I decided I would give my kids names that people could look at and immediately know how to pronounce. 

I liked E names for a while: Edward (thanks for messing that up, Twilight), Ephraim (or Efram), Elijah, Emma, Elizabeth, Eliott, Esther, on and on. I liked Biblical names: Eve, Rebekah, Matthew, Benjamin, Levi, Gideon. I liked family names: Emma Geneva and Oliver Ashmer. I liked old fashioned names like Margaret. 

When I was about 13, I saw Kenneth Branaugh's Much Ado About Nothing and fell in love with the name Hero. My friends thought it was nuts, but I decided about that time that my first two daughters were going to be named Emma Geneva and/or Hero Elizabeth. I couldn't decide which I liked best so felt like I should have two daughters. A few years later, I changed my top two names to something else. 

Cut to meeting and getting serious with Austin. He had no real preference on names, he just had a family tradition of the first son being named A Moritz Mullins. Since our family has a tradition of John "X" Walke, I was ok with that. I don't particularly like Moritz, but I get traditions. 

Once we found out the first baby was a boy, the hunt for the perfect A name began. I decided I loved Ash. Not anything longer to be shortened into Ash, just straight up Ash. We met resistance. People didn't like Ash once we told them where it was from: a movie called Army of Darkness that I grew up loving. The main character is a badass zombie/deadite killer with a chainsaw for a hand. I KNOW! How cool is that character?!

Anyway...other people in our lives didn't like it. A few did, a few were like "Really? Well, ok." And a few were anti Ash. So we started looking for names we could shorten to Ash. I immediately mentioned Ashmer, the middle name of a grandfather a few generations back. Austin didn't like it. I don't remember exactly who brought up Asher, but I really liked it. So Asher was named before we even fully moved to Abilene. An alternate girl's name was tricky, because Austin was thinking we should stick to the AMM for her initials. Mom suggested Annessa May, which was the only name that was moderately ok. I like May better than Maurissa, Austin's suggestion. Thankfully, we got Asher, and we were very pleased. 

Ash - Housewares

Then there was baby #2. A girl's name was either of my top two picks. A boy's name was harder. I didn't like ANYTHING. Neither did Austin. We pulled out the family trees and started going through them, looking for a cool family name from my family to give the baby. We decided that a first name would be from the Bible, so settled on either Elijah or Ephraim. And then we hit the middle name jackpot: Blackstone. We announced our two names and were again met with "oh I love those!" and "really? Ok." and "No, You're not using that name. It's horrible." which made me want to immediately pick that particular name. We literally decided on Elijah's name about 5 hours before he was born. Since Asher's name was a fandom based name, Elijah's needed to be as well. Elijah is an original vampire on the TV show The Vampire Diaries, a show that I really enjoy. 

Elijah - not a vampire to mess with

And now we've got another baby. I still haven't gotten to use my girl names. I'm dreading having to pick another boy name. I did, however, stumble into a boy name that we both actually really like. It's pretty great, in our opinion. And the number 1 girl's name is also fabulous. But this time, we're not talking. A few people who've paid attention over the past few years will probably guess the girl name and might have a stab at the boy name. But, to avoid the comments about how awful it is, we're not telling anyone our baby's name until he or she is  born. 

Rest assured, though, that both names are
ALSO fandom names of a sort. The boy name is from a book I love and the girl name is from a different book I love and a book Austin and I read together when we were dating. This baby is going to be literary! 

Telling someone you hate the name they have agonized and debated and searched and researched is just hurtful and unnecessary. I know people who have given their children names I personally think are ridiculous. I would never tell them that. "Hey, you know what? X is a terrible name!" No. 

That being said, there are ways of telling a loved one you're not a fan of the name they've chosen. I might MIGHT suggest a more normal spelling for it if they're going with something odd (seriously, how many ways can you spell Amy/Kristen/Ashley/Carolyn/etc?). Think about your kid's future teacher trying to call roll the first few days. Have some pity on them. I got the double whammy with Talitha Walke, so I know that weird spellings and pronunciations and names in general are going to be difficult for the kid their whole life. Think about nicknames (a couple people were certain Asher would be shortened to Ass. Ok.) Think about your child as an adult running for office or being a respected member of society. Is that name going to work for an old person? 

So, come January, our baby will be born and you will know his or her name at that time. Until then, hazard as many guesses as you want. I won't tell you if you're right or not. 

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