Friday, January 11, 2019

Naming the Grandchildren

     We have some grandchildren coming along in our family. One of them is a girl, expected by my niece, and so when I was talking to my sister, I couldn't help myself, I mentioned a few lighthearted possibilities for naming the child. My sister offered some strained laughter. But I could tell, my suggestions were not appreciated.

     After I got off the phone, I saw B standing at the door of my office. "What are you doing?" she challenged.

     "Oh, just having some fun, suggesting some names for my niece's baby."

     B rolled her eyes and heaved a sigh, signaling just how stupid she thinks I am. Then she warned me that you never try to suggest names for someone else's baby. The parents don't need our advice, don't want our advice, and will just resent anything we might offer. And for heaven's sake, I should keep my mouth shut when it comes to our own kids.

     Okay, okay, maybe she has a point. I dunno. Have you ever had the temerity to suggest a name for your grandchild?

     I remember when my wife and I were having our first child. We knew it was going to be a girl. My dad suggested we name her Penelope. Needless to say, we didn't name her Penelope.

     Still, I am dying to suggest some names for these babies. And B is too, she just won't admit it. Let's face it, we know more about pretty much everything than our children and our nieces and nephews do, including the naming of babies, so they could use some help. But, reluctantly, I have to agree that it would only cause trouble, so instead of offering names to our children, I will suggest a few here ... kind of like writing secrets in your diary.

     The names we are familiar with are now out of fashion. In the 1950s the most popular names for baby boys were: John, James, Robert, Michael. And for girls they were: Mary, Linda, Deborah, Patricia.

     We can't suggest any of those. We're not that square.

     Today the most popular boy names are Jackson, Liam, Noah, Aiden. And for girls: Sophie, Olivia, Emma, Ava. We can't suggest any of those. The kids will have already seen the lists. We don't want to be that predictable. And besides, Sophie is the name of our dog.

     So we have a nephew who is very hip and cool. He and his wife named their kid August. If August is cool, why not Septima for a girl, or Septimus for a boy. Or if we're going classical, how about Octavia or Octavius. These names are unique, yet there's precedence. Septima Clark was a famous civil-rights leader. Octavia Spencer is a famous movie actress.

     Or, if they don't like August, Septima or Octavia, how about another month of the year? April, May and June are all legitimate names, even if they're a little old-fashioned. How about January? As in January Jones, the actress from Mad Men.

     But a lot of people these days want a name that's unique. So if naming the kid after a month of the year is not unique enough, maybe Joaquin or Dexter, or Axel or Orion, for a boy. Or Paige or Piper, or Colette or Catalina, for a girl.

     But my nephew chose August, not Augustus or Augusta, because it's gender neutral. So how about a gender-neutral name like Blake or Chris or Dana or Leslie? Or some people name their kid after a hometown or favorite place. Brooklyn Decker is a famous model. I had a friend named Dallas when I was a kid. In college I had a girlfriend (briefly) named Cleveland. So maybe we'll end up with grandchildren named Phoenix or Portland, or Newark or Nashville. These work for either a boy or a girl.

     If you remember the TV show "Seinfeld" George wanted to name his (non-existent) kid Seven. "It's a beautiful name, for a boy or a girl ... especially a girl, or a boy."

     I don't know. This is a tricky business. I guess we'll just have to tell the kids . . . go with Penelope.


18 comments:

DJan said...

You are right, Tom, it's dangerous to suggest names for your grandchildren. It's hard enough trying to decide what to name a child these days. I like gender neutral names like Chris or Paige myself. :-)

gigihawaii said...

Well, I was named Glenda after the movie actress, Glenda Farrell. My blog name is gigi-hawaii. Go figure.

Savoring Sixty said...

Fun post!! We have 15 grandchildren between us and there are a few with more modern names like Tessa, but it is interesting that two born since January 2017 were named: Mary Catherine and Anne Marie. The most recent is Sam and it fits him like a glove! I never say anything, but cringe inside when they entertain the name of a former student of mine that was challenging in class. Luckily, none of those names have been chosen!

Red said...

My father's middle name was August. Yes , he was born in August but many Germans in the early 1900's used August.

Nan said...

Funny and yes, I have suggested names to my kids and hey, don't forget Nancy! I had 6 or 7 in my HS graduating class in the mid 60s and the only one I have met under 60 today is a little Korean girl I had in class (she chose that when her family moved to the US). I have a new grandson who was born in August- he's a Theodore! We're calling him Teddy now...

Janette said...

Worse then tying to help with a name is swallowing your lips when they name them something you really dislike. Names? I will not even begin to suggest. It is considered a major insult to many of this generation. Don’t go down that road.

Janis said...

Yes, probably best not to suggest names. I also find it very difficult to hide my negative response when I am told that a poor, innocent child will be named something (IMHO) is goofy. I went to college with a guy named Walter Melon... what were his parents thinking? He was a bit odd and I wondered if he would have been happier with a name that didn't make people laugh.

I was either going to be named Leslie or Janis (after Janis Page, a b-level movie star of the time). I was born in early January, so Janis is was.

Carole said...

This made me laugh out loud! There are a lot of unique names out there right now. On the memory care unit there is Neesha, Misha, Kadisha, Talosha and Radisha. All names I had never heard of before. Makes me feel old and out of touch! Thanks for the chuckle.

retirementreflections said...

You are a brave man, Tom!
I'm with B on NEVER suggesting names for anyone else's children -- especially grandchildren and the children of nieces/nephews.
But I'm also with B in secretly wanting to! :)

Tom Sightings said...

It never even occurred to me until now ... what if I get a grandchild with the same name as the kid who beat me up in 6th grade? That would be tough. So do you think, as grandparents, we could ask for veto power? Well, as you can see retirementreflections, there is a fine line between brave and foolhardy!

Diane Dahli said...

Unfortunately, Tom, a veto is out of the question! I guess you'll just have to live with whatever name the parents choose, even though, of course, you have come up with some extremely good suggestions! Good post-I totally enjoyed it!

Dr Sock said...

My daughter actually shared the list of name possibilities they were considering for their second child and asked which ones I liked. Mostly they were all really good names. I started to get attached to the top running name they were considering, and then they ended up naming him a name that had not even been on their list. But it is a great name and it fits my little grandson well. I was quite touched because both boys have middle names that are family names.

Jude

Wisewebwoman said...

I've stayed away from that minefield but was so pleased when a niece named her last child Norah which was my beloved grandmother's name.

I find most of the family have gone with popular names rather than uniques.

XO
WWW

Anonymous said...

My son chose a name for his daughter that was relatively popular in 2000. However, he spelled it weirdly so that everyone pronounced it differently and always had to be corrected. I do wish he would have just spelled it like it's pronounced.

Sheila

Jennifer Koshak said...

I'm partial to the name August as it was my grandfather's name. He was French but born in the Alsace-Lorraine area. His last name was definitely French, but it was common to see people have both a German and a French name. My ex-husband wanted to name a girl child Shiloh, I told him there was no way I was going to name a child after a Civil War battle site.

Linda Myers said...

When I hear names of new babies these days, I say to myself, "What were they thinking?" My own children were named James and Russell - sensible for first names and decent as last names, if that were a thing a person could easily choose.

The babies are just as adorable as they've always been, in spite of their names.

David @ iretiredyoung said...

Hmmm, I can see why B said you shouldn't get involved🤣

Rebecca Olkowski said...

Both of my kids have "unique" names and no one can spell them or pronounce them. I better stay out of the name suggesting business.