Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Overanalyzing Baby Names

When Craig and I first dated, we decided on baby names.  It was an entirely accidental conversation early in our relationship, but we nonetheless agreed on two names and left it at that.  Those names remained intact for a good five years or so, until a friend of ours stole our boy name.  That sort of ruined it for us for a few reasons, so we pretty much ditched that name right there.  At the same time, our girl name was falling out of favor because it was getting to be far too popular.  I was far more hesitant to name a girl something popular than a boy because boys come by nicknames easier and I think girls would end up with more of an identity crisis if they were in a class with multiple girls with the same name. 

When we got pregnant for the first time, we almost instantly decided on names.  It took a little bit of researching, but in the end it was quick.  We liked the name Jacob and as an added bonus it had a bit of a family connection on my side, going way back.  Our girl name actually came from a movie and also had a bonus family connection on Craig's side.  Jacob's full name was a done deal, but we never did come up with a middle name for a girl.  I was actually a little relieved when Jacob was born because I knew we knew the name and didn't have to debate middle names in the midst of being new parents.  But in both cases, there was no question that those were our names. 

In the four-plus years that followed, I was worried about the second time around.  I wasn't sure I wanted to stick with our girl name, and coming up with another boy name we liked as much seemed daunting.  I kept hoping that a name would pop out and take us by storm, but that never happened.  My take on names is that boy names are boring but considerably harder to screw up.  Girl names seem to have a broader range and more potential for fun, but at the same time they seem to have larger consequences.  I feel like girl names come with connotations.  There are obvious ones that sound like they should be announced in the presence of a stripper pole.  There are ones that sound like old ladies or plain Janes.  Sometimes people get extra creative with spellings and seemingly lower their daughter's IQ by about 10 points right off the bat.  Maybe that's not fair, but it just seems that girl names have greater meaning attached to them from the get-go. 

Boy or girl, I do tend to cringe when I see a name that just doesn't seem like it will transition to adulthood well.  For example, someone at Jacob's daycare had a little girl that they named "Harlie".  It's a cute name and all, but I have a hard time picturing that name as the CEO of a major company.  I think the same thing when I see a boy name made girlier with the addition of an "-ie" or a "-y" where there wasn't originally, like Jaymes or Jessie.  There's already enough to worry about when naming your baby, what with bullying potential and all.  There are nicknames and odd initials to consider.  You have to consider how it goes with your older child's name--you want it to coordinate, but not be too close.  You don't want a mouthful when calling everyone to dinner, but you also don't want a muffled yell making two kids ask for clarification on who you were actually calling.  It's a lot to think about.

This time around, without immediate preferences, I told Craig we couldn't even talk about baby names until we knew the gender.  No need to argue about two genders when we'd have a few months to focus on one.  Now that we know Riblet's a boy, of course every girl name sounds lovely and all of the boy names are doing nothing for me.  I looked through a long list yesterday, and while there are names I like, there aren't really any names that I like for our child.  Either they don't go with our last name, I wouldn't have the guts to go that different, or it's a name of someone we already know and most likely we wouldn't want to reuse it.  But I figured if I wrote down the ones I liked, maybe that would make it easier to come up with a good one at some point. 

But so far there's nothing jumping out at us.  It could be one heck of a battle.  I just hope something sticks and we love it as much as we love Jacob's name.  It's a big challenge and a big commitment.  And this time around, it scares me to death!

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