Though the naming of a child remains a contentious issue across cultures I think. Among Asian cultures, the older generation traditionally had a say in the naming of the child and that creates its own can of worms today.
So, yeah, it does take a certain amount of privilege to obsess about a name and then have an actual spat with someone over it, but many of us may be guilty of the former if not the latter. A lot of us had a list of names reserved in our heads for our future children and many of us have had these discussions with our friends. Well, at least many of us girls. I don’t know if boys talk about this stuff. And there have even been sticky moments when two people liked the same name, kind of like when two girls liked the same boy.
Never mind that the boy was not interested in either of them. You were not allowed to crush on the same guy as another girl in your friends’ circle.
Oh wait, we were talking about names here. So yeah, similarly, the actual baby was a far off possibility but the names were already being decided, reserved and squabbled over. The whole thing gets a little more intense as the possibility of babies draws nearer and the discussions are less hypothetical.
I am (in)famous among my friends for announcing three completely ridiculous names for the three children I would have in the future. But I also had some more normal favourites tucked away.
I also have the advantage of being one of the first in my group of friends to have kids. So, I’m probably more likely to have been the one who edged in on someone else’s name to their chagrin. Though thankfully, none of my friends went to war with me about it.
Things that influenced my choice of names for my children:
- My personal likings – the sound of the name (to me), my preference for names that can be shortened nicely
- The sound of the name in the English-speaking world, inIndiaand in Chinese. Thus, I prefer the name to be easily pronounceable in these cultures, unlike my own stupid name, and to not mean something weird in these cultures. Like, for example, Dick.
- V’s preferences – which landed up drastically shortening my list, with many of the more fanciful ones being chucked. Sob! So the actual naming discussion ended up being a five-minute one, V’s ideal kind of conversation. I presented my list, V shot down most of the names. We were left with two or three we both liked. Decided on one. Boring!
- People associated with that name. Thus, I am prejudiced against Gavin because I knew a lot of wussy Gavins growing up. Many female names went out of the window because they are the names of women V has been ‘associated’ with. In the end, though, it proved impossible to reject all names on this ground due to the sheer number of V’s associations. Thus, Mimi’s name is actually the pet name of someone V was linked to but whom he has sworn, on pain of divorce, to not have slept with. Or even kissed. Or had a crush on. And weirdly, this woman was also the ex-girlfriend or some such of V’s brother-in-law. So I asked my sister-in-law whether she minds us naming Mimi this and she asked me whether I minded and V hung around grinning and saying “what what” and this got me very suspicious. Okay this is a sore point. But I liked the name too much to waste it because of this woman of indeterminate standing from V’s past.
- Close family members having that name or a name that sounds like it. Thus, though I loved Alannah, it was rejected on this ground. My sis did not have the same concerns when naming her daughter though.
- The views of my sister. V and I did not discuss or ask for approval from anyone in our families before choosing the names of our children. Our parents were merely informed. However, I did run my shortlist by my sister. Because she ran her shortlist by me. And I objected to one of her names. And she went with the other one. So I owed it to her to do the same. Luckily, she liked my choices.
- My friends. Especially for Mimi, I had some discussions with MinCat about possible names. And I think with Curly. I think I may have stepped on both their toes a little. Mimi’s name was one of MinCat’s preferences. However, she graciously ceded the name to me (you did, right?). And it sounds like a name that Curly mentioned she loves. So Curly, if you feel like I stole your name, sorry sorry sorry. (Do you even remember what I’m talking about).
- How common the names are. In school, every class had about two Janices and sometimes two Janice DeSouza’s. I would prefer this not to happen to my kids. However, I think both their names have turned out to be fairly common, particularly Benji’s. On my Facebook list alone I think we can form a club of mums whose sons are named Benji’s name. What can I say, I’m on the pulse of the times!
So if you have kids, what influenced the choice of your kid’s name and did you filch a friend’s favourite? And if you don’t, have your reserve names been stolen? Did you throw a hissy fit?