Tuesday, April 24, 2012

You're not really going to name your kid that, are you?

Over the years, I have come across some rather unique names. (In fact, I once met a child whose name actually WAS Unique.) These names run from ethnic to kind of cool to "oh my god, your name is WHAT?" Of course, it's the last category I want to focus on here. I have long thought that all hospitals that deliver babies need to have Naming Counselors, who are responsible for ensuring that children do not go through life known to everyone as Le'monjello. This is, of course, my dream job. However, as the job has not actually been created yet, I will share my baby name advice here.

(I should add a disclaimer that I haven't actually met all the children by these names, and I'm not honestly sure that they're all real names. For all I know, Yo'Highness and Yo'Majesty are just urban legends. I will also probably change the spelling slightly on the more distinctive names in order to protect the idiots innocent. Also, if I happen to rag on your name or your child's name, well, tough shit. No one's forcing you to read this :-)

BABY NAME RULE #1: Punctuation marks do not belong in names.
I have considered adopting a child, although that plan is currently on indefinite hold. More on that later. Maybe. Adopting children from foster care (which was my plan) comes with certain risks, as I well know from my career. Of course, it is very rewarding and completely worth the risk in the vast majority of cases, but frequently children from foster care have a history of abuse or neglect, and this comes with emotional and behavioral baggage. But my biggest fear, when I was pursuing this path, was not that I would have to lock up my kitchen knives and razor blades. No.

My biggest fear was that I would feel the need to explain to school administrators and doctor's office receptionists and strangers in the park that I was not responsible for naming my child Kel'montae.

In some of these cases, I understand, parents are combining a part of the mother's name and a part of the father's name. However, in others, it is a normal name with the apostrophe added (along with unnecessary letters) so that Lila becomes Ly'lah.

Either way, I'm just going to have to put my foot down. Apostrophes do not belong in names. Neither do hyphens, exclamation points, or parentheses. If you choose to disregard my advice on this point, you need to understand that no one will say or spell your child's name correctly the first time they meet him, ever, and you have no right to get pissed off about this. It's not their fault you gave your kid a shitty, indecipherable name.

BABY NAME RULE #2: Creativity with spelling is only okay to a certain point.
I fully admit that this is where it gets pretty subjective. There are some creative spellings that I am fine with. In fact, although I have no children, I have been naming my hypothetical future children since I was about 8, and I have myself recently considered the idea of changing the spelling of Riley to Rylie for a little girl, which I think makes it more aesthetically pleasing and a little more clear that it's a girl's name. She'd have to correct other people's attempts at spelling her name for her entire life, but honestly, I've had to correct the spelling of Natalie my entire life, and I spell it the traditional way. (Also, I should note that there are at least 2 child actresses I have heard of who spell Rylie that way, so back off.)  So if you want to name your son Aiden instead of Aidan, that's fine.  But for god's sake, don't spell it Aaydin. That's just annoying.

BABY NAME RULE #3: Anything spelled backwards is not an appropriate name for your child.
Parents of children named Nevaeh, I'm talking to you.

BABY NAME RULE #4: Naming your child after your drink of choice is also not appropriate.
I swear I'm not making this up: I actually saw someone on facebook named Brandy Alexander. I don't know her. She's probably not even the only Brandy Alexander out there. I'm assuming, however, that her parents were probably not high-brow enough to drink brandy alexanders or even realize that it was a cocktail, because if they were that high-brow, I doubt they would have used the name. Of course, Brandy itself as a name, although it is still an alcoholic beverage name, has become acceptable enough that I probably wouldn't have the grounds to forbid it, but I probably would advise parents to think really hard about it - generally speaking, if you put the word "senator" in front of a name, and the result makes you laugh, it's probably a name you should avoid.

Some other names I've come across in this category are Chablis and Chardonnay (totally not kidding - they were siblings). I even came across one young man (I never actually met him, but I know that he does really exist, and the name choice was likely deliberate) whose name was a variation of the spelling of "kilo." As in the unit of measurement for the sale of drugs. Although, come to think of it, it's kind of surprising that I've never met a child named Weed. I have no doubt it will happen eventually.

BABY NAME RULE #5: No naming your child after food, either.
See above, re: Le'monjello. This is one of the names I'm not entirely sure is real, but according to the story, he had a twin brother named Or'angello. The inspiration, supposedly, was the mother's dessert choice during her hospital stay for the delivery. Of course, these names also violate rule #1, but it still deserves its own rule.

BABY NAME RULE #6: Under no circumstances should your child's name reflect any of the conditions surrounding his or her conception.
The first example of this that comes to mind is Six from the TV show Blossom (for those who either don't remember or never watched it, the story was, that's how many beers it took.) However, I also know of a young mother who named her twins Choice and Chance because it was "chance" that she got pregnant, but it was a "choice" to keep the babies. This is not okay.

BABY NAME RULE #7: Some old fashioned names are awesome. Others are not. Don't give your child a non-awesome old name.
This is another really subjective one, and a lot of names go through cycles of popularity. If you can imagine a child by that name, it's probably okay. I'm talking about names like Graham and Emma and Henry and Grace. Sure, it might have been one of your great-grandparents' names, but you can picture adorable little pigtailed Gracie running around with the puppy, can't you? But I dare you to try to picture a child named Edna. You can't do it, can you? That's what I thought.

BABY NAME RULE #8: Do not name your child after a car.
Anyone who read Beverly Cleary's Ramona book series will remember how cute it was when Ramona named her doll Chevrolet. But the thing is, Ramona was about 5 in the book. Also, she was only naming a doll. Also, she was a fictional character. When I was an assistant preschool teacher when I was in college, I had three little girls in my class whose names were Mercedes, Lexus, and Infinity. I could not even make that up.

That's all I can think of for now. Anyone have any rules to add?


  1. I greatly enjoyed your blog debut! Made me lol!

  2. I am rolling. Two Neveahs in a year has been overwhelming.

    1. I have to admit, I always love it when the parent explains - with immense pride as if she were the first to think of it - that Nevaeh is heaven spelled backwards. And I have yet to meet a Nevaeh whose mother I did NOT have this conversation with.

  3. One rule to follow is to say your child's potential name (both first and last) outloud to people you trust to give you honest feedback. Apparently the parents of a girl my first husband went to school with failed to do so. They named their daughter Anita Leigh (I need a lay). Need I say more? Poor girl.

    Another is to avoid the names of countries. My parents hired a friend of a friend to install carpet in my childhood home and he brought his lovely little girl with him. Her name was America. I remember asking my mom if her middle name was "The Beautiful" - yes I was serious - I was only five.

    Finally, please do not name your children after your career choice. My father knew a man who named his son Auto Body (first and middle names). Really???

    You can't make this shit up!!

    1. Oh, wow, those are great additions! Thanks, Traci!

  4. Anita Leigh has what could be a distant cousin in our area. His name is Brach (Broc-lee). Families like this just need to stop reproducing.