The Art of Namesnobbery

Do you know me? Do you have a child? If so, I’ve probably judged the heck out of you for what you named them.

I’ve met many parents who feel the need to have a boy name and a girl name picked out by the time they find out the baby’s sex, and then announce it with the gender reveal. Not only do I not understand the urgency, I don’t know how they can pick something and stick to it for so long before even meeting the baby.

The naming process became longer and messier with each child. With our first, we found out she was a girl and chose one of the two girl names I’d fallen in love with, though we didn’t announce it until she was born. The one downfall was that Kourtney Kardashian had her daughter Penelope just days before we how our Penelope — before that, the name was relatively obscure. Familiar, but uncommon. Thanks, Kourt.

With our second baby, the pressure was on. We wanted the name to mesh with Penelope’s. Members of the baby name community (yes, it exists) call that a sibset. We had tons of girl name ideas and almost no boy names we could agree on. Surprise surprise, he was a boy! We spent the time between the 20-week ultrasound and his birth kicking around names, frustrated and unable to commit. When he was born, I asked my husband if he looks like a Malcolm, and he said yes, and Malcolm he was.

Our third baby was the only baby with a surprise gender. We had exactly one boy name chosen at her birth and several girl names, and none of them fit her. We chose a first name that we’d never considered for any of our children, and a “word name” middle name, which I’m usually against.

It was that third naming experience that really changed my mind and my heart about striving to find the perfect name before you meet your baby.

We held her, snuggled her, and looked into her little blue eyes for four days before she had her name. We truly felt like she told us what she should be. Friends and family were anxious for updates — they couldn’t stand the fact that she was a No Name McGee — but we didn’t rush it, and we’re so grateful. I’ll always love the names we had planned for her, they just didn’t fit her personality.

And good news: her name only broke two of my babynaming rules. That’s right, I have rules. They are as follows.

  • Can’t end in an s/x/z because our last name starts with S and ends in Z. We’ve already set a lispy kid up for a rough go.
  • Can’t have a long A sound, because it would then rhyme with our last name.
  • Can’t have obnoxious initials.
  • Must have an easy enough nickname.
  • Shouldn’t be in the top 100 for popularity. (Violet was 47 at the time of her birth. Whoopsies!)
  • I must never have met anyone else, ever, with that name. (The only other Violet I’d ever met was an elderly lady, a friend of a friend, so I didn’t have any real association with her name.)

Have I sucked all the fun out of naming our children? Probably. Will I silently judge you for breaking any of my useless, imaginary rules? Uh-huh. But will I politely tell you your child’s name is wonderful and perfect? Yes. Because I know I’m neurotic, and the names of other people’s children aren’t my business, but they entertain me to no end.