Sunday, March 11, 2007

DAY 39: Choosing a Baby Name is Like Choosing a Wine

Jonathan and I were throwing around baby names last night. Actually, I was throwing around baby names last night, and Jonathan was protesting baby names last night (almost every one that I suggested). However, we did come to an agreement on a few names, but we aren't ready to disclose that information.

Holland had a few suggestions of her own: "How 'bout Ariel, Mommy? Or how 'bout Belle? OR (long pause) how 'bout Sleeping Beauty? (she said enthusiastically followed by a couple of giggles) No, that's silly. How 'bout Jasmine or Pocahontas?"

Seriously though, names are so important and so personal. I find that it is so stressful to choose a name for your child, but I have to remind myself that one thing I have learned is that kids "grow" into their names, and then you can't ever imagine them being named anything else.

The process of choosing a name for your child is similar to the process of choosing a fine wine. First, you swirl it around in your mouth and let it glide over your tongue. You determine if it has good “mouth feel”. As you continue the process you ask yourself questions that help you come to a conclusion. Is it versatile? Is it well suited for both formal and informal occasions? Is it smooth? Delicate? Complex? Does it have a long finish? Would you like to share it with your family and friends? What flavors do you detect? Is it well balanced? Will it age well? Is it something to savor?

Can you see the similarities? I sure can. However, as I am lying in bed I don’t always think in metaphors and the real process of choosing a name is a bit more fraught with existential trauma than is choosing a wine*. There are other things to consider. For instance:

How does it sound when I am talking baby talk? "Hi sweet baby, my little ______. Come here, let mommy give ________ kisses!"

Does it roll off my tongue the right way? Is there appropriate cadence? Rhythm? Is it prone to vulgar rhymes or other distortions? Does it ring true?

Is there someone we want to honor? Is there a special family name to carry on? Can her teachers and friends pronounce it? Is it spelled in a way that is recognizable and can be transcribed phonetically?

How does it look and sound on a birth announcement? An invitation to a birthday party? A wedding napkin?

Do the initials stand for something else in our overly-acronymed society? (e.g., RIP, SUV, BYOB)

Do you have any close friends or family members that have called “first dibs” on names you are considering?

How will it sound when the master of ceremonies calls out her name for them to receive their diploma?

Is the name rich in literary, biblical, mythological, or historical reverberations?

Is it unique without being too odd?

Does it clear a space for Being, as Heidegger said a name should?

So, there you have it. These are some of the things I ponder as I lie in bed. Choosing a name. Choosing a wine.

*Note: Some of the above comments/questions were provided by Jonathan. You can guess which ones.


whatthef*ck said...

you forgot "can the full name be yelled at the top of your lungs?" it simply must roll of the tongue when being yelled!

it also has to sound good with the last name. it shouldnt lend itself to butchering with a bad nickname.

have you seen this website? pretty cool.

dig the daughter ensemble. there are lots more of those to come in your future. i take comfort in knowing that when i see kids dressed like that i am certain that the kid picked the outfit and the parent chose their battle (or chose not to battle).

Nancy said...

Very eloquent! We are also in the midst of name planning - we held off for quite a while and need to cut our list down. Looking forward to seeing what you and our fellow bedresters choose!

Britt said...

I'm very strongly in favor of the name Genevieve, and take every opportunity to promote it. Unfortunately, i won't be naming any of my kids by that name because it's my sisters, and, well, i'm not naming a child after my sister. But i love the name, love the Saint, and it's fun to spell. I learned how to spell my sisters name at about Holland's age (granted, i had NO idea what i was saying, but i'm sure it was a lot of fun to listen to).

Oh, and the whole, "she'll grow into it" thing: it doesn't always work. I was named Amelia Susannah S. for 2 weeks before the nurse pointed out the initials (like you said, a very important part of naming a kids is watching out for initials) and they changed it to Brittany Lyn... ugh, just NOT me. I'm so an Amelia, initials and all.

Good Luck!

tamerlane said...

hhhmmm... well, when i pick out wine, it's usually at the neighborhood grocery or TJ's and i go for a middle-path price and a label that sounds & looks good. or let someone who knows better pick it out? the latter is not necessarily a good option for naming your child.
perhaps the right name will pick her? but for now, it's probably good to have something to obsess about to pass the time.
as for having a name no one can spell or pronouce, i dig it. it's MINE. i don't have to share it. and as much as i get tired of saying "all one word" or "it's my first name" or some version of the edgar allan poe/ mongolian warrior definitely creates a space for BEING! i am trying slowly but surely to fill that up.
so - i vote for that being your guidance: Create Space for Being. and trust me, anything can be Yelled at the top of one's lungs if necessary!.. or other 'nicknames'can be employed.