My youngest child is called back to see the doctor, but I don’t realize it at first because her name is mis-pronounced. I cringe. In Kyra, the ‘y’ is long (think Kyra Sedgewick) not short (would rhyme with Tyra as in Banks—who knew that was even a name?) We go to a neighbor’s tea and both my daughter’s and my name is mis-spelled on the table place-cards. Why did we spell hers that way, I think. Why didn’t I learn from my own name?!
What I’m experiencing is known as name regret and it’s not fun. For me, it’s merely an occasional spelling issue, but some parents torture themselves for months or longer after having a child, wondering if they should’ve named them something different, or should change the name now. I had a friend with a child named Bohdi, an adorable name I think, who mulled over changing her to Cinnamon, even into her second year. This always appalled me. To me, where there’s a Cinnamon, a drink on a cocktail tray isn’t far behind.
But the naming thing is a personal one. Some parents don’t even share their choices with others until the baby is named just so they don’t have to field opinions. We tried that with my first. Although it was really only our parents whose comments we couldn’t handle, so somehow we ended up telling friends, but not family, until my esthetician announced the name to my mother-in-law at the shower, assuming she knew. You can only imagine how well it went down with that sweet woman that “Everyone knows your names but us!”
Research has shown that the hand-wringing over names is neither minor nor unwarranted. A British study of 3,000 parents released in 2010 suggests one-in-five parents regret the name they chose for a child. According to another study, boys with “girlish” sounding names like Ashley or Shannon are more likely to have behavioral problems in class. Also, it’s been found that people have preconceived notions about which names sound like they’re from lower socio-economic status and treat people with these names differently, especially in school.
This year, several names jumped higher on the popularity list which will undoubtedly lead to name regret for some. These include Siri, Mars, Mac and Luna. Three of those sound to me like tech products, and the fourth evokes the eccentric girl from Harry Potter. I can hear it now, “Academics aren’t Luna’s strong suit, but all her teachers say she is just such an individual!”
Last weekend a woman posted a picture of a baby on Facebook, saying, “Hashtag Jameson was born at 10 oclock last nite. She weys 8pounds and i luv her so much!!!!!” Apparently this, finally, has gone too far for people and the negative and absurdist chatter has been flowing ever since.
In my opinion, many first-time parents make the name decision without the ability to look forward into the child’s life and the environment into which they’ll take the name. I’m sure I did this too. Much like when I chose a pediatrician with excellent credentials while pregnant, but once I actually had another tiny person with me and saw how clinically the doctor related to her I regretted my decision. I realized I’d forgotten to bring my daughter, and her needs and wants, into the equation. This was understandable—given than until that point in life I had only ever really made decisions for myself, not others.
Having said that parents don’t look to the future with their name choices, those who look too far to the past may be dooming their kids to names that bore and fail to leave their mark. Bets have already begun on names for the Royal baby-in-utero in the UK. Not that it’s a tough pick—most of them include some combination of Charles or Elizabeth. This very imaginative pool is sure to encourage individuality in the new century.
Still, I’ll take a good solid Charlie over Hashtag any day. About the current boom in odd naming, Political comedian Dean Obeidallah on cnn.com writes, “While I don't want to rain on creativity, let's be honest -- these weird names are more about parents showing off their "cleverness" than about finding a name that fits the child. It's not like the parents got to know the child first for a few months and then said, "You know this baby really is a little Siri."
Obeidallah then goes on to say that if parents are allowed to saddle these future grown-ups with such names as Apple and Mars, then they should be allowed to call their mom and dad by any name of their choosing. On this, I think I’ll let him have the last word. It’s just too fun for me to consider kids looking through a crowded store for their parents, calling out at the top of their lungs, “Angry Birds, You Tube, where are you guyyyyyyyys?”
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