Article: Baby Name Roulette
by Lucky Tomaszek
“It’s nice to meet you, Samantha. I’m Lucky… Lucky... Yes, it’s my real name… Yes, it’s very unique… You feel ‘lucky’ to meet me? That’s a good one, I’ve never heard that before…”
The quote above is my side of a conversation I have almost daily. As an adult, the name Lucky isn’t so bad, but in seventh grade it was a nightmare. Back in 1972 my mom and dad desperately wanted puppies, but instead they ended up with me. As a result, I’ve been making the same jokes and excuses for my name for as long as I can remember.
I’m not writing this to offend my parents (both of whom read my column loyally), but to entreat anyone who will be baby-naming in the future to think about the choice you’ll be making. Naming is a sacred thing, one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. It will affect the person your child becomes for his or her whole life.
The legal side of things
In Chihuahua, Mexico, they have recently passed a law insisting that parents give their children “an appropriate Spanish name.” Also, trying to fancy up a normal name with an unusual spelling will no longer be allowed. The government insists the purpose of this new law is to protect children “from a lifetime of ridicule and legal troubles.”
Here in Wisconsin, you won’t encounter anything like that. We have the right to name our babies anything we like. Additionally, you don’t need to give in to pressure from friends, family or well-meaning hospital staff to name your baby within 48 hours. By law, you have up to a year to name your baby. Your birth certificate can be filed without one and amended later. As an interesting point of fact, you can also change your baby’s name (for free) anytime in the first year if you realize you’ve made a terrible mistake.
So many names, so little time
If you type “baby names” into any Internet search engine, you will find hundreds of sites. Some are simply lists of names, while others focus on name meanings, traditional ethnic names and how astrology should play a role in your decision. It’s a little overwhelming. I recommend going to the library or book store and paging through actual books.
Linda Rozenkrantz and Pamela Redmond Satran have written two very good ones. The first, Beyond Jason and Jennifer, Madison and Montana, is a pretty weighty volume with more than 400 pages discussing name meanings, spiritual history and people’s perceptions of a name. Their other book, Cool Names for Baby, is a much smaller collection of lists of names, organized in categories like Literary Names, Old Lady Cool Names and Names No One May Be Cool Enough For.
I have also enjoyed the books that spoof traditional baby name books. One of the all-time classics, Don’t Name Your Baby (What’s Wrong With Every Name in the Book) by David Narter, tells it like it is while making an excellent piece of reference material as you’re narrowing down your choices. Think perhaps you’ve finally found the prefect name? Think again.
“Josie: You say Josie, the world thinks hot pants and pussy cats,”
“Oliver: Insurance rates run higher for Olivers since they are more likely to get beat up.”
Sometimes even with the aid of the Internet and several good books, a name is hard to find and harder to agree on. A good friend of mine told me how she and her husband picked the names for all six of their children. They divided a piece of paper into a boy’s side and a girl’s side. Both had the right to add any name they liked, and both had the right to cross any name that simply couldn’t be tolerated. No fuss, no muss, no questions asked. At the end of nine months, they had a small collection of names they both liked. They would spend a few days getting to know their new baby and then agree on a name.
Will they like it? Who counts and who doesn’t
You and your partner have poured over the books, looked through magazines, made the list and checked it twice. You’ve found THE name. It might be the best name EVER. Don’t tell other people until you’ve put it in writing! Because here’s the thing, your friends and family (especially your family) are going to have very strong feelings about it. And they’re going to share those opinions with you. With brutal honesty. Take this actual conversation (July 1995):
“I think we’ve finally picked a name for the baby.”
“It’s about time. She’s two days old. Who is she going to be, then?”
“We’re thinking of calling her Laura Rose for Laura Ingalls Wilder and her daughter Rose Wilder. This name really speaks to me. I really like it.”
“Laura Rose? Really? Laura Rose?”
“Yes, really. Why, Mom? What’s wrong with it?”
“Sounds like a country and western singer. I think you could do better for my first grandchild.”
We didn’t call her Laura Rose. We chose Lena Anne instead. It’s a good name and it suits her. But it wasn’t my first choice. As I said, keep it to yourself until it’s been inked on to the birth certificate.
In the end…
The most important thing to remember is that the name should suit your baby, but not be a cause of future pain. Try rhyming it with a few other words to make sure it’s safe (hint: Lucky Ducky Plucky *ucky – Oops!). If it’s a moniker you and your partner agree on, and one that won’t hinder your baby as the years pass, you’ve done well.
Source: Vital Source Magazine