When it came to naming, neither my wife nor I had any strong initial thoughts so we turned to an a-z book of names for inspiration. After struggling to decide between Jones, Smith and Harris we had to accept that the telephone directory was perhaps not the best choice and went out and bought a proper name book instead.
In my opinion it is worth scanning through the whole list before making a decision but some parents seem to find this difficult. I often joked with the parents in Small 1’s antenatal group that they either had short attention spans or found names that they fell in love with extremely quickly for there was an Abigail, an Amelia, an Amy, a Benjamin and (drumroll for the parents with the greatest staying power) a Conor. I couldn’t help feeling some of them had wasted 25/26th of the purchase price.
Once we had decided upon a name the next big issue was whether to reveal our choice to friends and relatives. This could prove to be a testing time, especially if we were not 100% convinced ourselves. We might have faced some disparaging remarks or, possibly worse, silence or an exclamation of ‘oh’ or ‘ah’ or even ‘shame’.
So we kept the name to ourselves. We were sure that once there was an actual baby to go with the name it was very unlikely we would get any disparaging remarks. Our reasoning was that names are a very subjective matter when they are being considered in the abstract but when they are linked to a living, breathing, farting, belching, sleep deprivation inducing bundle of joy they invariably elicit a positive response. The ‘oh’s and ‘ah’s change tone and are expanded upon to ‘oh, that’s nice’ or ‘ah, what a lovely name’.
And that was how it was. Mostly. There are always those who like to say what they think without engaging any social filters so we still met the occasional, “Really?” and the odd, slightly more guarded “That’s unusual.” We just had to hope that they were referring to the name and not our precious, beautiful and above all, perfect, Small. We ignored any unsavoury remarks and consoled ourselves that Smalls tend to grow into their names. It is very rare to meet somebody that doesn’t seem to suit their name.
If the worst case scenario should arise, i.e. Small decides he doesn’t like his name, he can always change it later in life. I once had a friend who disliked his name so much that he changed it to the first three things he saw when he opened his toolbox. He was thereafter legally known as Monkey-Wrench Spanner Hammer, which is unusual but does have a rather good ring to it. Luckily he didn’t spot the wire strippers, an awl and a screw first. Then he would have been known as Screw Awl Strippers, which sounds more like a statement of intent than a name.
That is one of the reasons it is important to spend some time thinking about names and their potential consequences. Monkey-Wrench’s parents either didn’t think his original name through or were mean at heart: if you have the surname Peacock you should think a bit longer before naming your son Andrew. On the face of it everything looked fine, until his school mates start shortening it to Drew. Now if you say Drew Peacock to yourself a couple of times without pausing between names you’ll understand why it was a problem. Kids are crueller than adults and picked it up instantly.
A final word of caution, name books seem to come with two section; boys and girls. Pick one from the right section otherwise Mary might feel a tad aggrieved when he gets to school.
Not so much a parenting guide full of advice, more the reality of parenting kids and being a house husband and father, written by a stay at home dad to three children.
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