Babies are quite the rage right now, and so my wife is currently carrying our third one and is right around 37 weeks. She’s enjoying a barrage of questions like, “Oh, you haven’t had the baby yet?” “Are you still pregnant?” “You’re not 40 weeks yet?” For some reason, being pregnant means open season on comments, but she is a very gracious person and so she takes it in stride, and I learn things not to say to other people. This is one of many reasons my nickname for my wife is “Gentle Steel.”
The other question always comes down to names. “Have you decided on a name?” “Are you telling people the name?” “Why aren’t you telling people the name?” “Can I be one of the people you are telling?” “Oh, that’s an interesting choice, why are you spelling it that way?” “Did you know there’s a [your baby’s unique name] in our neighborhood?” Or the worst/best one, depending on the tone, “Seriously?”
ONE WAY TO NAME YOUR BABY — THE OL’ SOCIAL SECURITY DATABASE TRICK
Naming our kids has always gone down like this. My wife comes up with 1000 choices and I veto all of them, only to come back a few months later and re-pick one of the names I vetoed. She also has full veto power on any name that I come up with. We usually started with nicknames or one-syllable stuff and worked our way backwards.
Then I look it up on the Social Security Baby Name Database to make sure it isn’t too popular or obscure. It is quite the process. We should do it for other people and charge a fee.
I looked up both my name and my wife’s name, and we peaked about two years before we were born, meaning we were very trendy at the time. Trendy translated into me being one of three Shaun/Sean/Shawns in class, and I had to add in my last initial for clarity, “K,” which quickly and rather lazily turned into SHAUNK. When I was older, a niece of mine took this one step further and referred to me only as UNCLE CHUNK. Now I have a white streak in my hair (think Mr. Fantastic) and she changed it to UNCLE SKUNK.
We don’t do the thing that many people do, which is to try and anticipate how other children will make fun of the name you pick. I don’t do this because I have the same brain as many of these children, and I know that you can make fun of ANY name in ANY way, so just wear your name proudly and hold your head high.
And it’s funny that I’m a copywriter by trade (thus someone who comes up with names for things) and yet my wife is way better at picking baby names than I am.
LAY CLAIM TO YOUR BABY NAME AND IGNORE THE RELATIVE HEAT
We try to walk into the 20-week ultrasound with a boy and girl first name and middle name. Then we announce said name to the world in order to lay claim to it as soon as possible. Everyone has a different strategy but this one seems to work out okay for us.
Some people don’t like to tell anyone their baby name ahead of time because they don’t want to be given a hard time by their opinionated elders. I have always wondered about this strategy, because someday they will have to start calling their child this name, in front of said relatives.
Also, if you are embarrassed to say the name out loud, why are you naming your child this? I get all kinds of opinionated reasons from friends on this, so if you’re an under the table baby-namer, go talk to them…because I disagree with you.
ONE MORE QUICK BABY NAME TRICK
Ask your friends what names they absolutely loved that their wife or husband said “no” to. This is a goldmine of good names. I have yet to have someone withhold this info from me. As for me, the name was Ezekiel…because I think the nickname “Easy” (over “Zeke”) is just way too good. So please, use it! It will feel like a victory for me.
This name thing also works if you ask somebody what their worst nickname was when they were a kid. You’d be surprised how many people will slip up and tell you. Then you can save it for a choice moment in the future, unwrapping it like candy when they least expect it…
HOW NOT TO NAME YOUR BABY
I once gave someone a hard time for giving all of their children Gaelic names, when the parents weren’t Irish or Scottish or anything of the sort. Fast forward many years, and what have we done? We’ve given all our children Gaelic names, and we also lack much of a connection. I have learned that if I ever make fun of something, I then inherently do that very thing in the near future (ask me about it, there are dozens of things). I also realized that all of my children have last names for first names. These are never things you set out intentionally to do, but are interesting in hindsight.
SO I READ THIS WHOLE THING BUT YOU DIDN’T TELL ME WHAT YOU NAMED YOUR BABIES.
Ah, that’s right! Well, here you go. Finn. Mack. Sloane.
Boy. Boy. Girl.