Please Don’t Name Your Child That

My friends are procreating. It was bound to happen, sooner or later. Enough of them are married and/or regularly rolling in the hay. Babies are the obvious, somewhat smelly next step. My Facebook feed has suddenly been taken over by nursery decorations and pictures of pee sticks pregnancy tests. The infants, they draw nigh!

Now, on the whole, I’m pro-baby. Sure, I’m not ready for one (hooray whore pills!), but I can see the appeal: they’re even cuter than kittens, they often smell nice, and someday you’ll get to embarrass them with the naked pictures you take today. That’s a pretty sweet deal. So, when I’m invited to baby showers, I tend to be excited. Buying tiny clothes! Eating cupcakes with gendered icing! Making fun of the impending spawn’s name!

Oh yeah, that last one happens a lot. People are bestowing some terrible appellations on their children, kittens. I know this isn’t new. When Tiffany went from a store to a chart-topping first name, we were pretty much screwed as a species. Some of these modern trends, however, seem especially painful. When it comes time to name your own vomit-slingers, please don’t choose from these options:

Sex & The Twilight Inspired - When you were a wee single lass, you watched Carrie and Big live happily ever after, whispering to your stuffed camel, “Someday, Butternut Cantaloupe, that will be me!” Now, it’s happened and – hooray! – you’re having his bébé. It’s only natural that you’d want to honor your imaginary friends by naming a miniature person after them. I’m just going to caution you, however. If your friends pay too much for shoes, were written by Nicholas Sparks, or sparkle in the sunshine, rethink this decision. Every other kid in your baby sinking swimming classes will be named: Aidan, Noah, Jacob, or Bella.

Chik-Fil-A Spellings – Question: Are you, or have you ever been, a bovine fast food mascot? If not, please use traditionally accepted spellings. Katherine v. Catherine is one thing, but Kathrynne, really? Really!? Your poor child is going to have her name misspelled by every person she meets, from Starbucks baristas to the police officers issuing her that minor-in-possession ticket. Worse, you can’t get mad at her for drinking underage. Repeatedly spelling such a name for twenty years would drive anyone into the arms of Jose Cuervo!

Words That Will Doom You – I know. Just subbing out some letters in an existing name seems too overdone. You want your child to be the most special snowflake amongst all of the special snowflakes ever. Ergo, you’ve decided to really blaze your own path, and pick a word that best encompasses their spirit. Wait – blaze! – that can be a name right? Blaze McGillicutty has a nice ring to it. No, it doesn’t. It has the ring of a child who will one day burn down your house. Children are already crazy, they need no encouragement. Names like Rowdy and Wilder are just dooming you to a toddler who’s even more rambunctious than usual. When you’re peeling stickers off the side of your BMW’s bumper, blame no one but yourself.

Sugar & Spice & Schnookums – Your child came out super hot. Congratulations! Your genes totally own other people’s! However, this is no time to get cocky with your spawn’s name. Just because she’s as cute as button doesn’t mean you should actually name her Button. Just because he’s as sweet as pie doesn’t mean you should name him Pecan. Cutesy nicknames are great – my brother has been called Bunny Boy by my mother for most of his life – but they don’t work as actual names. When she’s five, JuJuBee is adorable. When she’s a 48 year-old podiatrist? Less so.

Now, if your precious preciouskins’ name falls into these categories, my apologies. To each their own! I may snicker a bit about your choice, but I promise to give little Renesmee really great birthday presents. If you went with Torchy, however, I can’t promise he won’t use that set of Harry Potter books as kindling.

- Grace

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50 thoughts on “Please Don’t Name Your Child That

    • Glad you liked it! Us poor elder children though – we always get the brunt of poor naming decisions. Personally, I was named after my two grandmothers – and it shows – while my younger brother & sister both have really great unique-but-not-weird names. I’ve always been jealous!

  1. Love it! My dear friend and I went rounds over her pending child’s name. It is not appropriate to name your daughter a boy’s name. Accept the fact you’re having a girl and move on! No one needs gender confusion in elementary school!!!

    • Such a good point! Every year, I make the nametags for my mother’s fifth grade class. Invariably, there is some poor kid with a incorrectly gendered name. Why give kids more ammo for taunts? Yikes.

    • Ha! Hailey, I think our pets would get along well. My cat has a real name, I swear, but she only comes to “catfriend,” as she’s never heard me call her anything else. Seriously though, how much fun would it be to call a child baby and then put her in a corner for timeout? The jokes, they write themselves!

  2. I have a great desire to name my kids after obscure characters in movies and books that I really really like. Like it will somehow instill the qualities of their namesake into them. Besides… how many other babies will be named “Raistlin”?

    • Drew, I love that idea! Mostly because I’ve always fantasized about naming a boy “Emerson,” after one of my favorite (cranky archaeologist) literary characters. Though, now it’s been co-opted by trendier people than I into an actual widely used name, so it’s off the table. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that Raistlin doesn’t shoot up the lists. ;)

  3. Loved your post! It’s fun to fantasize about weird baby names, but we should have compassion and show some restraint. Bullying still goes on in spite of Oprah and other wel-intentioned doo-gooders. I had a frien in college who planned to name his first girl, Tara Lane, after the street that he grew up on. Don’t name your kid after luxury cars either, like Lexis, Porsha, or Audi. Nah! Not a good idea. Funny that my Grandpa’s name really was Wilder.

    • Such a good point! Why give kids more ammunition for their bullying? Kids have enough trouble, without cursing them with awful names. And – egads! – luxury cars definitely belong on the list. Portia is fine, if spelled in the original classic way, but Porsche? Just kill me now. Yikes!

      • on the other hand bullies will ALWAYS find some excuse to bully, name, hair or skin colour, the way you walk, anything really so maybe good strong name after good stron book character is a good idea?

  4. Oh my! I absolutely, 100% feel your pain. A coworker just named their DAUGHTER Amis. Amis? I have no idea how to even pronounce that. Like Amos, from Amos & Andy? Like Amiss? Like Ah-miss? No clue. And the sad part is, no one else will either, unfortunately.

    • Oh my god! That poor, poor child. She’s going to be pronouncing that for people for the rest of her life. For her sake, I really hope it’s not pronounced like Amos – people will spell it like the male name every single time. Ugh.

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  6. Great list! I would also add (1) a first name that rhymes with your last name (because if your name rhymes, people will laugh at you. This is just a fact), and (2) initials that spell awkward words (do not inflict A.S.S. upon your unsuspecting child!).

    • Oh, Christina, you hit two of my own personal naming issues. The guy I’m dating has a last name which rhymes with my first – the jokes, they’ve already started amongst my friends – and my parents almost gave me the initials V.D. In the 80s. I am now strongly cognizant of both of these factors, when it comes to naming. Excellent points!

      • I’m in CA and the unfortunately, the epidemic must be nationwide. One of my faves is when parents are tired of the popular names and then name their little ones, well, spin offs of the terrible originals. Think “Jayden” as the most popular name on the books (think it’s in the top 5 for boys). I now know a “Brayden,” “Zaden” and “Kaden.” People, please!

        • Oh, Emily. I totally feel you on the Kadens and Braydens. My neighbor named her children Kyson and Kooper. I don’t even understand what possessed two such reasonable people to think “Tyson is too overdone. Why don’t we just make it a K name?”

  7. My name is one of Goddess of the Earth from Greek Mythology, for a very brief time as a kid I wanted to be called Anne after Anne from Green Gables (and that was super popular name at that time, in every classroom there were at least two Annes) but that passed very quick and I absolutely LOVE my name, it’s special and beautiful and I don’t care that people can’t spell it or pronounce it-it’s amazing
    I think naming kid after strong and beautiful book/film character isn’t such a bad thing
    though I have to admit Aragorn Smith would sound rather silly… ( but Radagast Brown would be awesome!)

    • I absolutely love literary-inspired names, I have to admit. When it comes time to name my own wee people, there is a high probability they will end up named after some of my favorite characters.

  8. I have had to spell my first and last name all my life. But that is what happens when a 17 year old names you after her favorite soap opera character, but thankfully is allowed to give you the middle name of smurf. I’m mostly over it now, and it makes me giggle. But it isn’t easy growing up with a named spelled different.

  9. I was cursed with an unusually spelled first name, and a completely insane last name as a child. No one could ever spell it or pronounce it correctly. In fact one of the things that attracted me to my husband was his last name: Hale. How can you mess that up? It is next to impossible. This is also why it took us nearly six months to decide on the name of our daughter. We really didn’t want to bestow any additional woes on her lol

  10. Urgh, spot-on post on one of my pet peeves! I mean, after having been diagnosed with a gastritis when really I was pregnant myself, I kinda realised where these people were coming from when they wanted to name their child Gastritis. However, I think they should lose custody immediately on the grounds of not being fit to be parents. Who in his/her right mind would inflict something like that name on their child!!! In this instance I was so very glad that here in Germany the laws prohibit names like that. Some over-regulation does have its merits.

  11. you crack me up! I live in rural NC near the mountains, and we bought our house from a woman named Mondee, she told me at the closing it was after the Mamas & Papa’s song “Monday, Monday”… her mother heard it on the radio and thought it was “Mondee, Mondee” and liked the music… more recently, I heard of a few boys named Thor and Loki… omg!

  12. Oh my lord, one of my PET hates is when people mutilate perfectly good names. I know of a few Tahlias – all spelled differently, and I would not be surprised if one even sported a silent 7 just to make a point! (Although, whose point that would be making I’m not quite sure). Girls are much more prone to name malfunction than boys. I mean, I have never heard of a Lyukke instead of Luke, or a Daneeal instead of Daniel… but give it time. I guess!

  13. As a teacher I have seen some absolute SHOCKERS. I believe every parent should have ‘Naming-spawn 101′ as part of their antenatal classes! Some of the worst I’ve seen (with translations) are: Hayley Payley (seriously, that was her full name), Khloiey (Chloe), Davvyd (David), Brodderich (Broderick), Lybertee (Liberty) and Jiodayn (Jordan). W.T.F?!

  14. I have a theory that overly cutesy names start to sound marginally acceptable again towards the end of a person’s life. Still not a good enough reason to use them though.

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