Sunday, July 28, 2013

What's in a Name?

I read an article recently about how stressful some people think it is to choose a name for their child: 

Like a lot of things, though, I think the way a person feels about that process really comes down to perspective.

Personally, I considered it an honor to be in a position, along with my husband, to choose a name for both of my children. When I was pregnant with my first child, I read somewhere that it can put a person in a "position of power" to have a name that follows this rule: the last syllable of the first name should start with the same sound as the first syllable of the last name.  That sounds complicated, but it really isn't; an example of this is Stephanie Nelson - the last syllable of "Stephanie" starts with an "n" sound, and so does the first syllable of the last name.  

Obviously, if someone uses a nickname and/or if a woman marries and takes her husband's surname, that pattern may not hold as intended.  I named both of my children with that guideline in mind, anyway, though.  Of course, whether or not that rule is true is really just conjecture anyway.  Who really knows what's in a name??  

Whether or not name selection seems overwhelming can depend on how the parents-to-be view things.  While I think there are definitely some names out there that are a little "out there," it's possible that some people put too much thought into what names are too trendy or popular.  When my sister Jennifer was in the second grade, there were three other girls also named "Jennifer" in her homeroom, which was obviously confusing for everyone involved.  The teacher told the Jennifers to work out what each of them would be called so that there wouldn't be any mix-ups, and one of them right away called dibs on "Jennifer."  Another said she liked to be called "Jenn" and the third one quickly chimed in that she could go by "Jenny," which left my sister as the lone non-nicknamed student.  It was a Friday, and the teacher sent her home to think about it for the weekend, as if it was a homework assignment ... or a punishment.  

My sister didn't seem to mind, though; she announced to my family that she needed a nickname and it couldn't "Jenn" or "Jenny."

"How about 'JB,' for your initials?" Dad suggested.  "OK," she agreed, and that was that.  

Except for some reason I felt the need to have some input into the situation.  Later that weekend, the newly coined "JB" and I were floating around in a swimming pool, just the two of us, and I told her that I wasn't going to call her by that nickname.  "I'll either call you 'J' or 'B,' whichever you prefer," I told her.  "I'll take 'J,'" she said, and thus her family nickname was born.

When my sister Nancy and her husband were trying to choose a name for their baby during her pregnancy, lots of different name combinations were considered.  They did not find out the gender of the baby while Nancy was pregnant, which afforded us an opportunity to chime in on ideas for names of both genders.  In no uncertain terms, there were lots of cooks in the kitchen for that project.  The girl name was easier, because Nancy had had a favorite girl name since childhood.  But the boy name was open to all kinds of possibilities.  By the baby's due date, the parents-to-be had narrowed it down to three boy name possibilities, and then, two days later when Nancy went into labor, they announced that they had shortened the "in case of boy" list to two.  A few hours later, with all of us there and with the baby's arrival getting very close, they were still discussing which boy name they preferred.  Finally, less than an hour before the baby was in Nancy's arms for the first time, she and David came up with a plan: when the baby was born, if it was a boy, they would wait to see with which hand he reached out first - if left, the name would be one of the two choices, and if right, the name would be the other.  Fast-forward to "it's a boy!" and the moment of decision - and it was the right-hand reach that won out, with the newest addition to our family essentially choosing his own name, Crosby.

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