Cool Name of the Week: Louisa 28210

Most of the boys in my daughter Katie's class have entered that brief "girls are icky" phase. Which is kind of a bummer for her, as she loves Star Wars and Legos and Harry Potter, all of which seem to be embraced far more by the boys in her class. But there's one standout—Charlie. At least as far as he's concerned, Katie totally rocks, and has ever since he first laid eyes on her in Miss Cerefice's first grade class. Back then, he proposed marriage to her on the story rug, and has (apparently) hand picked much of her birthday gifts for the past two years, which included humungous blingy rings that my daughter displays proudly in her room, and an array of flavored lip glosses (maybe I should be worried?).

But Charlie's the kind of boy you hope your daughter ends up with someday (even if third grade is a bit too early to settle down). He's smart and sweet and kind, and he knows how to cook. He's adorable with his little sister, and the handmade birthday card he gave Katie last year, about how special she is, is the kind of thing you keep to share with her when she's going through her first tough breakup. (Unless, of course, Charlie's the guy who breaks her heart...)

I'm pretty sure the Charlie I know is actually a Charles, but many parents today are opting to skip straight to the nickname (which is #236 on the list of baby names for boys—and also #376 on the baby name list for girls, making it a unisex name that still works for the boys). Charlie, like its root name Charles, means "free man," and is a name with Germanic roots, though it's actually a French name. It's been a name of many European kings (and England's heir apparent Prince Charles), and famous folks like Charles Dickens, Charles Darwin and Charles Schulz. Charlie is linked to its own share of famous (and infamous) people, including the character Charlie Brown, Charlie Chaplin, and of course, off-the-deep-end actor Charlie Sheen.

But whether you opt for formal Charles or informal Charlie, it's a classic name that stands the test of time. It'll pair nicely with longer middle names like Frederick or Jonathan. But if you're going for Charlie, you might want to choose something interesting in the middle spot. Maybe something like Duke, Finn or Gray.

No matter what, though, Charlie's a keeper. (Even if my daughter doesn't end up thinking so!) So what's your vote: Charles or Charlie?

Photo: Pregnant woman via Ronald Summers/