Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Name rant addendum

K, so now I'm feeling all bad that I wrote insulting things about popular names. I think.


I've been riding high on sugar for like a week now. Halloween candy is totally awesome. Also Paxton was super sweet and got a ton of candy and told me that all the chocolate is for me. How can I pass that up? He's too sweet. And so is his candy. Yuuuummmm.


I should mention that my own kid's names have been the subject of ridicule online in several places. Oh, the things that have been said, the judgments that have been made. Also, the day we got P's referral? The day we first heard his gorgeous, meaningful, and also very common Ethiopian name? We shared it with people. And what did they tell me on this most wonderous occasion? "Ew. You can change that right?" "You NEED to change that right away! He'll be teased!" "You have to give him a normal name. You don't want to send him into a business interview with that name do you?" "Teachers will treat him poorly if you keep that name! If you want him to do well in school he can't be named that!"

And of course everyone had "statistics" to back it up. Seriously? This is the age of Google, and if you want to find a study, paper, article, or statistic to back something up, you can. Just take the opinion you already have and only look at, and latch on to, that which agrees with it. I mean, seriously, *I* do it, why don't we all admit that we take statistics and studies more seriously when they agree with what we already believe to be true?

Anyway, yeah, that was my first taste of name hate.

So my own name, very common and popular and, IMHO, overused, is considered just fine for any (female) child. But a name like Tariku? Uh, yeah, I've met two people in the US who can pronounce that (other than Ethiopians or Ethiopian adoptive parents). It's TA-ri-ku, with the r sounding a bit like a d. He was called Tari (TA-ri) in Ethiopia and I can't tell you how close we came to keeping his name.

So why did we change it?

Well, I could give you the normal reasons like "this was our first child and we wanted the honor of naming him since we'd missed everything else" or the acceptable "we felt it best to give him an American name so that people wouldn't have trouble pronouncing it all the time" (which helps, yeah, but not the case). What it boils down to, though, is that one day I was sitting around and a voice popped up in my head and said "You're going to get a boy and you'll name him Paxton" and I just couldn't get that out of my head. We even had a couple other potential names, Solomon and Cassian, as well as a slew of baby name books handy, and we really did come close to just keeping with Tari, but he just... well, he was Paxton. And we kept Tariku as his middle name and he's allowed to go freely between them and he has my express permission to ask to be called Tariku permanently if he so chooses. But he says he likes Paxton. He may change that when he's a teenager and I can totally see him taking back his birthname legally on his 18th birthday (and I'll be there to celebrate with a cake that says "Happy Birthday Tariku!").


My fingers are numb and my brain is fried and this is getting me nowhere.

So let me just say this then:

I love my kids names and those were THE NAMES for them, for our own reasons. They're actually rather long, complicated stories that involved a lot of what ifs and that one perfect moment of THAT'S IT!!! And lots of second guessing afterwards but, that really was it and our minds were stuck and somehow, someway, both times we were absolutely stuck on a boy's name, certain of that name, before even knowing we were having a boy.

(should I mention now that we've had a girl name picked out for a year that we're both stuck on?)

So, the thing is.... The perfect name for your kid is the perfect name for your kid. If they don't like it they can change it, like Nik did, or they can grow into it, or they can adopt a nickname that they use full time, or go by initials or a middle name and use that if they work in a business environment.

What they do when they grow up is their choice.

But when they're born you're making the choice and the name that seems perfect is perfect.

Whether it's Jacob or Bear or Apple or Emily or Pilot or Liam or Honey or Lily or whatever.

Or Sophie, which is a name I'm perfectly enamored with but beyond being highly popular is also the name of several children I know which just makes it weird to me to give to my own child, like I'm stealing a name. Oh, but she's the main characters in Howl's Moving Castle... I like Howl too... wonder if I can sell Nik on that one. Howl Everett? Howell Everett? Naaaah... maybe middle names?

Okay, I'm about to pass out from cold, sleepiness, lack of company with Nik stuck uber late at work, and the sugar buzz wearing off.

So I think my point is this: You give your kid their name because that seems right to you, due to whatever factors seem important like:
-family members
-the way it sounds
-who you did or didn't know with the same name
-real or fictional people or places with that name
-what sort of life you see for them (business office? Freelance photographer?)
-your last name
-your own experience with names
-how popular/unique it is
-culture of origin for you or child or ancestors
-influence from friends or children around you
-cultural attachments
-a bajillion other factors

And everyone else does it the same way. Some people are pretty much handed a name if these factors don't mean much to them, others toil away at choosing a name for years.

But not everyone is picking a name for the same reason you would pick a name, nor do they have the same factors.

A name that sounds crazy and pulled out of nowhere to you might be the name the parent has loved since 5th grade due to... some reason. A name that's uber popular might be uber popular for a reason, such as a good meaning, nice sound, and close family members with the same name. A Caucasian middle class parent giving their child and ethnic name might have strong ties to that culture and name and not just be trying to be "trendy," and even if they are that's still their decision.

What gets me, really, is just this name hate and how defensive people get over their right to judge, declaring that the parents are dumb and selfish for forcing such hideous names on children. Seriously, unless you live in their family, in their culture, in their town, go to their work, their place of worship, know their family history, their ties to this name, and know for a fact that others of the same name have fared worse than those with names you yourself have chosen.... yeah, I don't think you have any right to judge. And yeah, that goes for Pilot Inspektor and Audio Science too. And Apple. I mean, seriously, it was in baby name books far before Apple Martin was born, it's not like she's the first, or last, and it's not like names have always been homogenous.

Okay, back hurting, time to pass out asleep and dream of Reese's Cups and the strict diet I'm going to have to (attempt to) go on starting the end of the week....

Night y'all.

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