Sunday, April 22, 2012
My Rules for Naming.
Also, I think we've decided on a name...maybe. I've liked Whitman Graham for a long time now, and I think last night Ben was finally convinced as well. Yay! Hopefully, my mother won't fret too much since we'll be calling him Whit for short. Growing up with an extremely popular name (and working with kids over the years) has helped me develop some rules for when I would finally name someone, shall I share?
1. Don't pick a popular name! Granted, for my mom and her mother it was a little harder knowing when a name would be popular. They didn't have the internet to tell them the most popular names of 2011, and they couldn't look up where their choices ranked in the country. However, I look at my sisters' names with envy that they lucked out with Shanna and Jolie.
2. Don't pick a name that's too weird. I'm all in support of unique names, but there is definitely a line, folks! If you live in the South, everyone supposedly knows a set of twins named Orangejello (pronounced Oh-rahn-juh-low) and Lemonjello (Luh-mahn-juh-low). Hopefully no one's really going out and doing that! But over the years of working with kids, I constantly run into names that I stumble over or have a very hard time telling the gender. Sometimes it's a very simple name to pronounce, but since the parents thought a different spelling would be unique no one can figure out the poor child's name. PS- If you're going to give your kid a weird name, don't have a hissy fit when I can't figure out how to say it! Honey, I'm a well-educated woman and if I can't figure it out, maybe the problem isn't with me. Just saying.
3. If it's very unique, make sure it's easy to figure out. Now this is where I think my parents hit naming gold with my younger sister Shanna. It seems to me that it would be the easiest name in the world to figure out how to pronounce. Notice that I say "seems". It's "Sh" and "Anna", how hard could it be? Apparently for adults over the past 26 years, very. The most common mistake was "Shania", "Shay-na" or "Shawna". Poor Shanna even got on the news once with our favorite weatherman only to be called Sharon...sigh. Though I will admit, my family is a bit more tolerable of mis-namings since we struggle with this all the time with our last name being Culpepper. The best mis-pronounciation was "Bullpetter, party of four."
4. Test it out! This one is a biggie. And you have to test it for different things. Obviously, does it go with the last name? Since our children will have Ben's last name (my consolation prize to him, since I love being a Culpepper too much to give it up), which ends with a -ey, there goes any names ending in an -ey, -ie, -ee, -y. We also couldn't have anything with a lot of S sounds in it, since I have a not-exactly-easy time saying them. There's also the PBF (Potential Bullying Factor), does the name rhyme with anything unsavory? How easy is it to pick on a kid with the name you're thinking of? We had a scare with this with picking Whitman. On our refrigerator is a huge list of names we've been narrowing down, and when my parents came to visit they started looking through it. So did my 12-year-old sister, Jolie. And when I told them I liked Whit a lot, she says, "But what if they call him nit-wit?" (silence) Uhoh, but Ben and I are hoping that kids won't be as creative as Jolie was coming up with that one. :-/
And then there's my favorite test, yell it! There will be a time when that beloved angel of yours is acting up so badly that you'll need to invoke their full name to snap them back to reality. And how will it sound? One night I was looking up middle names to go with Whitman and spent about 30 minutes just yelling out boys names: Whitman Art Lacey! Whitman Zeke Lacey! Whitman Lemonjello Lacey! (just kidding!).
5. Forgive yourself. Some of us will have children that grow up hating their names no matter what. We honestly thought about giving our children two middle names, just to give them some choices when they grow up. But I'm hoping since Whitman can be that or Whit, it will give him a few choices he can be happy with. But really in the end, you just have to accept the inevitable. Some names will end up suddenly on a crazy popular TV show after your child is born. Some names will be unpronounceable to the general public no matter what you do. And there will always be bullies who try their best to make others miserable. (My bullies couldn't come up with anything better than Sculpepper, which I still don't get.) In those situations all you can do is keep a sense of humor about it and try to stay positive.