Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A quick rant about names...

Okay, why, WHY, do I bother going to "baby name" forums? I mean, seriously, I LOVE names. I love the histories of names, the reasons people have for giving their child a certain name, I love unusual names and classic names and, well, just names.

What I do not love, however, is name judgment.

Since I'm too much of a wuss to create an account, log in, and say this to people directly...

Seriously, y'all, get over yourselves.

Just because you don't like a name does not mean a child will be bullied because of it. So you can make a silly rhyme with it, so what? It sounds like a body part? It's "ethnic"? It has a "youneek" spelling? So. Flipping. What?

Seriously, okay, my name is Megan. The most typical spelling of one of the most popular names of my generation. I grew up with several other Megans in my class and because of it I always had a secondary label, like Megan M or Megan #3 or Brown Haired Megan or Megan Who Sits On The Left.

And don't even get me started on those dang blasted "personalized" pencils/stationary pads/mini license plates/hair clips/etc! People with uncommon names got actual personalized gifts on vacation or from relatives. I got pencils that said Megan. A LOT of them.

So no, no, I'm not in any way all about giving my child a common name. I hated having a common name and honestly? It never felt like MY name because of it, just some label stamped on me that didn't really fit. I'll respond to it, sure, but it doesn't feel in any way special or "mine."

Oh, and here's the kicker: My name was so, so, SO wicked popular, and also so simple to spell and pronounce.

And for my entire life I've been correcting the spelling and pronunciation.

Oh, and I was teased because of my name. The kids wanted to tease me (semi jokingly, as they were sort of friends) so they came up with a rhyme anyway even though it didn't make sense. I did the same to my cousin with his common name as well. They didn't need to sound like a bodily function or fictional character, if a child wants to make a dumb rhyme they'll do it.

But, hey, you know what? I've spoken to other people, children and adults, with rare, unique, or even "ugly" names, and you know what they say? They LOVE their names, they feel more individual because of their names, they stand out and are proud of their names, they love being able to be known by their first names alone and they would certainly give their own children unique names.

And so, here's my point:
When you are posting on a baby name forum, blog, or even writing a book and you are giving naming advice and literally bashing names and the parents who choose said names... you are being a jerk. A bully. YOU are the people who would think less of a person and their family because of a name choice.

When you are deriding a use of "cutesy" nicknames as a first name you are forgetting names like my own, Megan, which are in the truest sense only a nickname being used as a first name (and for some reason people still take me seriously). When you groan about how new spellings of older names are becoming popular, you are forgetting that very, very few of the names we have now started out in the spelling we have (I mean, seriously, who spells Guenevere like "Jennifer"?). When you joke about names from other cultures and how "we" (white people) shouldn't use them, honey, that's just discriminatory and there's no reason "our" names are okay for all other races and yet "their" names aren't just as good for us. When you laugh at people giving a child the name of a person from a book... uh, yeah, Bible much? And then there's names like Wendy, which were created only for a fictional tale. Oh, and when you're making fun of "feminizing" very masculine names for a girl? You're making fun of my mom. You don't want to make fun of my mom. She will mess you up :-P

(Hi mom!)

So am I not bothered by what other people name their children?

Well, I do take a bit of an issue with naming a child a super, super, over-popular name JUST SO that child won't be teased. Congrats, bullies, you have already won the battle while they child was still in the womb! I have to admit I'm also a bit put off by people giving their children that same over-popular name and not knowing how popular it is, as if it's a shock years later when they discover that it was #1 that year. I mean, the charts for top 1,000 names are available online readily so I don't know how people can be unaware of the popularity of their children's names. In our case, P's name was rising in popularity but now appears to be skyrocketing, and we've already met a few other Paxtons. But he was #777 on the top 1,000 list the year we named him. He's still the only one in his school at least! And, again, he's known by first name only (and boy does he LOVE his name!).

Okay, so this rant is getting me nowhere, just kind of a mental dump.

I guess I should finish this by stating that a blog I've recently started following had a post about what not to name your baby, poking fun at names just for laughs. I wasn't laughing. Poking fun at baby names is tantamount to poking fun at real people, and then declaring that someone else will bully them because "children are so cruel"... Um, no, you're the cruel one. I see people listing names from their children's classes, from hospital birth announcements, from their friends and families, just to laugh at them, and feeling fully justified. And I'm mortified and disgusted.

I'll probably rant about this again. It's just... seriously? You really think naming a child something like, iunno, Urijah, is setting him up for failure? I've met so many people with similar names (Yuri (m & f), Uri, Uriah) and no, they aren't teased, and yes people do take their names seriously. Really? Get. Over. It.



christytucker said...

You didn't even get into one of the other reasons for more unique names: online identities. There are a few other Christy Tuckers out there, so I get emails for the wrong ones several times a month. When I was deciding on a name for my freelance business, I couldn't just do "Christy Tucker Consulting" or something like that. I probably could buy the domain name for my name, but I'd still have problems with confusion with the others with my same name.

My name was a reasonable balance though. It's a common enough name, but not the most common spelling. Finding those pencils with my name spelled correctly was possible, but infrequent enough that it was a treat. I always had an easier time finding those than my sister Gayle though, since her spelling is more unusual.

I think your kids' names suit them both well, and that's more important than anything else.

ChaosMandy said...

My name is Amanda (usually called Mandy) and I went to school with several other Amanda's.

When it came time to name my daughter, I really wanted to name her Emily because I love that name. Thankfully my husband liked it too so that's what we went with. I did have several people who tried to talk me out of naming her Emily because it was popular.

But that's us - I think every parent should pick a name they love for their child.

I only go to those baby name sites to get names for characters in my books. I didn't even realize they had forums.