Friday, July 26th, 2013
Joe DeProspero has two sons, a wife, and is complimentary birth control for anyone who sits near him in a restaurant. His writing has been described as “outrageous,” “painfully real,” and “downright humiliating.” He talks about the highs and unsettling lows of parenthood while always being entertaining and engaging in the process. He has written the book “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt” and is working on releasing a parenting humor book. He currently lives in New Jersey with his wife and two sons and can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.
Giving anything a name can be a daunting task. A poem, a song, your pet iguana. If you’ve ever been in a position where you’ve had to “title” any of them, I don’t need to tell you that it’s a painstaking, often arduous process. And naming your own child is easily the most difficult of any naming decision you’ll make.
First, it’s a name you’ll be blamed for until you die. Second, both you and your spouse have to come to one joint decision (which is difficult when you can’t even decide on a movie for Saturday night). And third, there is often family pressure to succumb to their wishes rather than sticking to your own (likely predetermined) ideas. Just ask Princess Kate, who I can guarantee you, deep down, would’ve loved to go against royal tradition and name her baby Thor, or something equally unexpected. King Thor does have a nice ring to it.
Before you even start the process of determining a name for your child, there is one thing you need to remember: Everyone has opinions, and most of them are terrible. Or at least they will seem that way to you. After you’ve announced that you’re expecting, and you’ve been grilled relentlessly about the-gender-you-won’t-know-for-months-anyway, you will find yourself inundated with baby names. It’s like being smacked across the face with a Pottery Barn Kids catalog. Most of the information will be completely unusable and self-serving.
Aside from your own indecisiveness, you also have to deal with the aforementioned skewed views of everyone in your life who believes their opinion matters. For example, you’ll have those who will passive aggressively tell you they hate the name you’ve chosen.
“Sophia? Really? You guys actually like that name?” No, we can’t stand it. We’re just really big ”Golden Girls” fans.
Then, you’ll have those who don’t like the name because it reminds them of someone who wronged them in a totally insignificant way in 1973.
“Oh, please don’t name her Francesca. I knew a receptionist named Francesca and she had a lisp and was incredibly promiscuous.” I was grateful for this information, as the last thing I’d want is for my daughter to be a lady of the night with a speech impediment.
The most intriguing bunch are the ones who believe that by naming your child the same name as someone they despise, your child will magically inherit the awful personality traits of the hated party. Generally speaking, this person’s opinion should be treated like a new boyfriend or girlfriend’s attempt at making homemade sushi—pushed to the side and ultimately discarded when no one is looking.
Your best bet is to not tell anyone your chosen name until he/she is born. Pre-parent, I found this pretentious. But now I believe it’s the path that leads to the least amount of drama, bitterness and resentment. In a nutshell, people are much less likely to speak ill of your decision if it’s one they can no longer change. Not to mention you have a new baby. Anyone with an ounce of social grace knows to keep their mouth shut.
With that said, here is a series of pitfalls to avoid. Follow these and you should be able to keep your child out of therapy for a while.
- The name chain
If your last name starts with a “K,” don’t name your kid “Mike.” Instead of being Mike Kaplan, your child will end up being My Kaplan, Mike Aplan, or worst of all, Micapalin (which sounds more like an over-the-counter ED medication).
- Hey, it’s tradition
It’s an honorable act, naming your son after his grandparents. However, if you’re having a boy (and the two grandfathers are Richard and Lester), don’t name your poor son Richard Lester. People tend to abbreviate or shorten names and this one will only spawn ridicule and shame (shorten Richard to Dick…then take it from there). Or, for abbreviation, our newest royal family member: G.A.L.
- The unavoidable nickname
Speaking of abbreviating names, don’t name your daughter Susan if you hate Sue. It’s like putting a piece of cake in a doggy dish and being angry that the pup licked the icing off. A nickname is going to happen at some point. So I suggest picking a name where you can live with any possible version of it. You can still monogram their receiving blankets with your personal favorite of the bunch.
- Fallen on hard rhymes
Before you slap a name on that birth certificate, say it out loud to yourself. Then say it to a few others. Did any of them cover their face and stifle a laugh? Well, it’s probably because you named your kid Dino Marino. If you want to give something a clownish name, saddle your dog with it. Better yet, a goldfish. The life expectancy is much shorter, minimizing the humiliation from their friends.
At the end of the day, this is your decision and yours alone. When my wife was pregnant with our second son, we made a monumental mistake and told everyone our three top choices. This guaranteed one thing: at least one person would be disappointed. In fact, people started referring to the baby by their favorite…while he was still in the womb! We waited three days after his birth and ultimately decided on the least popular of the three, Nathaniel, and announced it to the families shortly thereafter. Sometimes, at night, I close my eyes and can still hear the crickets.
So, stick to your guns, decide on a moniker that sounds pleasant with your last name and one that you’ll be comfortable shouting for the next couple of decades.
Thanks for reading, and look for my blog next week about the thought process behind going from two to three kids. In the meantime, check out my recent appearance on Huffington Post Live, discussing “How to Hire a Nanny.” They had me take my glasses off, so I l0ok blind, but I was thrilled to be a part of the conversation.
What are your baby-naming pet peeves? Add a comment below!
Pregnant belly picture courtesy of Shutterstock.com
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