WINK ;) baby names

ūüėČ What I Now Know about baby names

baby-namesAs¬†a Sunday school teacher I often find that I learn as much (and often times even more)¬†than the young people in my class.¬† This week¬†was a perfect example of that as we took out our “God goggles” and looked at “naming” and more specifically the difference between good and bad naming.¬† Who knew that so much could be wrapped up in a name?¬† And as I studied the lesson¬†a couple of¬†things stood out to me.¬† First of all,¬†the idea that naming is Biblical.¬† It was the first job that God gave to man.¬† You might recall the story in Genesis where Adam was called to name all of the creatures.¬† The second thing that kept coming up was just how powerful a name can be…which led me to this post.

When my husband and I found out that we were expecting we tossed around several name ideas.¬† It was fun,¬†light-hearted and a learning experience as we discovered that we had very different ideas about what makes up a good name.¬† Soon after finding out that we would be having a boy, we began to narrow our focus.¬† I wanted¬†Matthew or Thomas…family names.¬† Steve wanted to name our son Jacob or Calvin.¬† Family members and friends weighed in with their ideas.¬† Before long we had a long list of possibilities–none of which we were really crazy about or could agree on.¬† Then someone threw out the¬†idea that we should have a backup¬†name for a little girl…just in case the doctors were wrong.¬† Yikes!¬† Like a lot of couples, we finally got serious and bought a baby name book–and the real trouble began!

If you’re ever looking for a good chuckle, look up your name in a baby book.¬† Better yet, look up the names of family and friends.¬† Very entertaining.¬† The baby book we chose (from Motherhood Maternity) was particularly golden as it had a subsection under every name that detailed celebrities who share the same name as well as a sentence or two that describes how the general population feels about the name.¬† Priceless.¬† For example, my name–Anna–means graceful, however, the general¬†perception of¬†the name Anna brings about images of a hardy, pioneer woman.¬† Let me just say that I am anything but a hardy, pioneer woman.¬† I would have DIED on the prairie!¬† If I couldn’t pick up my food at a grocery store or through a drive-thru window, I wouldn’t eat.¬† Nevermind the fact that I can’t stand to be cold (or hot).¬† I need climate control, too!

This newfound information made choosing a name even harder.¬† Through laughter we eliminated many names and with awareness added many more.¬† Finally, we found a name for our son where we least expected it.¬† In a conversation between my husband and I (about an old Air Force buddy of his) we settled on the name Sean.¬† Our son would be named for a friend.¬† The baby book confirmed our choice as Sean means “God is gracious.”¬† It was perfect.¬† Still I couldn’t help but look at the two little sentences at the end of the entry…Sean is typically a well-liked man who is debonair and sophisticated¬†like Sean Connery’s James Bond character or¬† he is an intense, moody (yet talented) character like Sean Penn.¬† Chuckle, chuckle.¬† (If you know my Sean, you know exactly which description he favors.)

My daughter’s name came about a little differently.¬† Armed with knowledge (veteran parents now) we set out to choose a name for our little girl.¬† Many of the girl names we liked just three years before didn’t makes sense for this new bundle of joy.¬† I started at the beginning of the baby name book and went about choosing a name methodically.¬† This became a bedtime ritual for me.¬† When Steve would finally settle in for the night I would toss out a few names.¬† He was great at pointing out potential problems with little girl names, things that I had never thought about.¬† The list of acceptable names was short.¬† I found myself drawn to one name in particular and offered it up for opinions.¬† Bad move.¬† Let me say that again…baaaaad mooooove!¬† Turns out people have very strong opinions about little girls’ names.¬† Our mothers were not impressed with this name option.¬† Oh, they were polite about it…but “umms” and “wells” can surprisingly speak volumes.¬† I was at a loss until I started the name game fresh again…back to¬†the beginning of the book.¬† I came upon the name Casey.¬† It was a sweet Irish name that meant “brave.”¬† I liked it and before I knew it, I LOVED it.¬† This was the baby’s name.¬† This time when we announced our name choice there really was nothing anyone could have said that would have changed our minds.¬† I think that’s how you know when you’ve come across the right name.¬† You just have that gut feeling and won’t be swayed any other way (which is good, because¬†this one¬†wasn’t an immediately accepted name choice either.)¬† I especially loved the short little sentence at the end of this entry.¬† Casey is an outgoing, friendly brunette.¬† You just can’t go wrong with an endorsement like that!

So, both children ended up with wonderful, well thought out Irish names (did I mention I’m nothing close to Irish?)¬† And here’s What I Now Know about baby names:

1.  Naming requires time and consideration.  Many times we overlook the significance of a name and forget to weigh our decisions.  A cute name today can easily become outdated.  An old-fashioned name may require a lot of explaining for years to come.  An unusual spelling is unique, but can be problematic down the road. 

2.¬† Family names can be tricky.¬† I have mixed feelings about family names.¬† I don’t mind the idea of Junior, the Third, the Fourth, etc., but when you have a family name chances are someone is going to nickname your child.¬† Don’t consider it rude, it’s just that differentiating one person from another is often a necessity for a family.¬† Be prepared to offer your own nickname.¬† It can save you a lot of trouble.¬†

3.¬† Step into the role of a class clown or bully.¬† This tip probably seems odd, but it has a serious place on the list.¬† For example, I really like the name Ashley.¬† But it was quickly pointed out to me that this name is gold as far as teasing is concerned.¬† Also, if you child has trouble pronouncing the name Ashley, there’s another opportunity for poking fun.¬† Kids have enough going on these days…don’t add to it by giving them a name that someone else can easily exploit.

4.¬† Tread lightly where initials are concerned.¬† I used to think initials were cute and don’t get me wrong, they work for some people.¬† But overall, I wonder whether using initials is a disservice to the child.¬† Look at it this way…when you go by your initials it’s somewhat of a shock to people when you use your real name.¬† And you’re going to have to use your real name at some point.¬† I remember someone who went by his initials.¬† Honestly, it was years before I knew what his name actually was.

5.¬† Keep the name to yourself…at least for a while.¬† Let it grow on you.¬† Walk it around a little bit.¬† Consider it from all angles.¬† How does it sound for someone at age 5, 10, 15, 50?¬† Does it still sound good to you?¬†¬†When you finally decide to share¬†your baby name–be prepared.¬†¬†You will¬†get feedback!¬† It’s not like you have to defend your baby name, but if you’re¬†dead set on it you should be ready to¬†back up your¬†name choice.¬† Ultimately the decision is yours, but I remember in the name announcing process not really¬†being prepared for some of the comments I received.¬†

6.¬† Think of your¬†child.¬†¬†¬†It’s their name, not yours.¬† Sure you like it, but think about pronouncing it, spelling it, hearing it chanted at a football game, read aloud at an awards assembly, with the words Mister or Madam President in front of it.¬† Look at the name’s meaning and significance.¬† You shouldn’t base your name on some celebrity, but it doesn’t hurt to be knowledgable about whether or not the name will bring to mind a famous person.¬†And lastly, pray that you will give your child a good name…and when you do, use their name well.¬† How quickly a name can go from good to bad based on tone and inflection.¬† Build your child up by using their name with love and never in a negative way.¬† Have you ever seen a child cringe when their name is called out?¬† Make it a practice to use their name with respect, after all you’re naming a child of God.¬†

All in all, I’m happy with our baby name choices.¬† It’s been fun to share with the kids the stories about how we chose their names and what their names mean.¬† I love to hear how others have arrived at their child’s name choice as well.¬† There’s only been one hiccup to Sean and Casey’s names…over the phone (especially) people often as me, “Are your children boys or girls or one of each?”¬† Yes… I thought that I had considered every aspect of their names.¬† Apparently, I had overlooked gender neutral naming.¬† LOL ūüėČ

A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.   Proverbs 22:1

ūüėČ What I Now Know (W.I.N.K.) is a recurring entry on this blog.¬†¬†The idea of WINK as an acronym popped into my head the other day while I was doing laundry.¬† You see, aside from being a slave to housework I actually have quite a bit of knowledge filed away in my overworked brain.¬† While I don‚Äôt claim to be an expert on anything, I know something about a few subjects that just might be worth sharing.¬† And just like that¬†this new blog idea was born‚ÄďWINK (What I Now Know).¬† I hope to share a little bit of what I‚Äôve learned as a daughter, sister, friend, wife, mother and all-around regular, ordinary¬†girl.¬† Look for ongoing posts, but What I Now Know (as a busy wife and mother) is not to promise¬†weekly entries because life happens‚Äď and it usually happens when I want to blog!¬† (Here‚Äôs where if I could wink at you, I WOULD.)