Tuesday, August 7, 2007

A baby by any other name would smell as sweet?

By Karrie McAllister

I have a friend whose belly is bigger than mine, and of that I am jealous. I am jealous that her pregnancy will be over by the time the chaos of the holiday season strikes. And I am jealous that she and her husband know they are having a girl and that her name will be “Florence.” (Well, it’s NOT Florence, but I try to protect the innocent here.)
Rounding the half-way point of my own pregnancy –and I do mean “rounding” – my husband won the coin toss and we have decided not to find out the gender of our child during our routine ultrasound. He says that since we found out with our other two, and have one boy and one girl, that this one should be a surprise.
And trust me, I love surprises. I do not, however, love the thought of having to wash and separate the basement full of baby boy and baby girl clothes that we have accumulated.
And even more than laundry, I really do not love having to decide on both a boy’s name AND a girl’s name.
Choosing a name for your baby has become a nearly impossible feat these days. Parents long for a name that will meet a certain amount of personal criteria. Usually they’ll want a name that is special, unique, and somewhat different. If not, we’d have billions of John and Jane Smiths running around.
Not that there is anything wrong with Jane or John.
Parents just want their child, who is absolutely spectacular in their eyes, to have a spectacular name that will reflect their individuality in this world, and that, my friends, is the first hurdle of baby naming.
Secondly, when choosing a name, you must take your mind back to the lunchrooms of fourth grade and brainstorm all of the horrible nicknames that your child might possibly be called. Names must not be able to be shortened to, nor rhyme with, certain body parts or functions, nor should they ever rhyme with less-than-pleasant adjectives.
The name must also never be the name of an old girlfriend, boyfriend, or school bully. But this rule should go without saying.
Finally, once you do choose a name, you have to decide how to spell it. This seems simple enough, but trust me, it’s not. Google the top 1,000 baby names of 2006 and half of them are some forms of Emily and Jacob—with more spellings than I could fit in the text of this column. And as someone who grew up never being able to buy pencils with my name spelled correctly on them, I am bound and determine to not re-write the dictionary just to keep my children’s names unusual.
So keeping these conditions in mind, my husband and I have been going back and forth, and well, arguing, about the possible names for this baby that’s started playing soccer in my belly. We’ve done what we’ve been told to do. We’ve made lists and taken turns vetoing the ones we don’t like, and we come back with papers with a lot of ink.
We just can’t fully agree on a single one.
Either I know someone with a certain name or he informs me that “the teen years would be waaay too rough” and we’re back to square one and a nameless child.
I know we’ve got plenty of time to think about it, and eventually the kid will have a name other than “The Baby.” But in the meantime, I’d feel a lot better if we could just settle on a name.
Because once the baby comes, whether a girl or a boy, I’ll be too busy separating laundry to think of anything new and creative.
Florence is sounding better and better.

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