How to Name Your Baby

I read somewhere that the best part of naming your baby is realizing all the people you hate.  I wholeheartedly agree.  You may really like a name but will forever associate it with that annoying kid you sat next to in 5th grade or a disobedient pupil you taught in swim lessons or a smelly coworker…you catch my drift.

And get used to delightfully disagreeing (not fighting, of course) with your spouse.  If you two happen to agree on any of the first 300 names that either of you suggests, then congrats.  My husband liked the name Norma.  Needless to say, neither of our girls is named Norma.  My Dad wanted to name me Gertrude…thanks, Mom, for not letting that happen.

In striking down many, many name suggestions, I realized I had a list of criteria that my children’s names had to satisfy.  You may find this list useful when naming your own child, so here it is:

  1. It can’t be too common.  Growing up, I was always one of at least 3 Katie’s in all of my classes.  If you have a unique name, you may not realize how obnoxious it is to have to go by an alias at school or on sports teams, but it just is.  When you’re young, things like that feel like a big deal.
  2. It should have only one spelling – another result of being named Katie/Katy/Caity/Kati/Caty/Kaytee (I made that last one up).  Spelling your name all the time is just annoying.  Also, if you’re going to be unique by spelling James like Jaims, just do your kid a favor and don’t.
  3. It should be easy to pronounce.  Our last name is hard to pronounce (it rhymes with house, not boss, but whatever) so at least we could give the twins an easy first name.
  4. Name them what you’re going to call them.  My legal name and the name I use on a daily basis are not the same.  When someone calls me by my legal name, I know that they have just glanced at my badge.  Maybe it’s just me, but I think it’s awkward to have to say, “Call me Katie,” especially when you have to tell the same person multiple times.  Also, nicknames will happen, so if you don’t want anyone to call your boy Bob, you probably just shouldn’t name him Robert.
  5. Make it at least a little bit harder for schoolyard bullies.  This means you should think twice about naming your kid anything that rhymes with something that happens in a bathroom.  I really liked the name Cooper for a boy but…

In the end, we used family names, but they met all my rules.  Best of luck to all of you currently in the process of picking one of the only things that will remain with your child forever.  No pressure.


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