25 March, 2012
What is going on with baby names? Everyone has gone insane. There have always been those few people who name their kids freaky things, but lately it seems to have gotten out of hand. People come up with unusual names to stand out, or name their kids something the parents find cute and funny, and they have such fun taking little Brecken or Grather out to the park, but then when the kid starts socializing, their cute, unusual name is suddenly just weird. Kids will pick on you for being different, and they are quick to latch on to anything about your child that they can use against him. It's a tough world out there, and some of these names just make it tougher. Before you all say I am exaggerating, I can assure you I know what I am talking about. I also grew up with a very, very unusual name. My mom wanted me to be a non-conformist. I grew up surrounded by Jennifers and Ashleys and Sarahs, and I felt my life would be so much better if I had one of those names. So often I heard people say, 'your name is WHAT?' and I remember being very young, and the kids standing around me looking at me like some sort of unidentfied bug. What this lead me to do is try to conform in all other ways. I wanted the brand names, the hairstyles, I wanted to make sure I saw all the right movies and liked the right songs. And when I started dating, I would do anything to make sure the guy would stay with me. I'm fine with all of it now, but I would never want my own child to go through that. The fact that my mother gave me a weird name to make me not conform kind of backfired... all I did was conform my little heart out.
Ok, here are some of the weird names I have encountered: I went on an interview the other day with 2 little girls named Quinlan and Waverly. I felt so bad for them, they seemed like such sweet little girls. Those are both hideous names, but poor 4 year old Waverly is going to get so sick of people saying, 'oh like Wizards of Waverly Place!' My god people, what are you thinking? Naming your kid after an old TV show is bad enough, but a current show that is probably watched by your childs' peers? That is just cruel.
I took my charge on a playdate once with a friend named Ainsley. I hadn't met the child before, and Ainsley sounds like a last name, but as a first name I figured it was a boy. Nope, that unfortunate child was a girl. Darling little 2-year-old girl saddled with a name that makes me think of an old man on his deathbed (just the image that comes into my head).
One of the worst names for a boy these days is Keegan. There are little Keegans running around everywhere. I cannot hear that name without thinking of Kegels! The lucky thing for these boys is that most kids don't know what Kegels are, and the name has become common, so even if people make fun of it, the Keegans can all suffer together.
I knew a family once with 3 kids named Tabitha, Brynn and Skye. Tabitha had to constantly deal with jokes about wiggling her nose (and having never seen Bewitched, did not know what they were talking about), Brynn had her name mispronounced as 'Bryan' all the time, people who just saw her name written assumed she was a boy until they met her. Skye had all the jokes you would guess about up in the sky, high as the sky, etc.
Does anyone remember the news story a few years ago about people naming their kids ESPN? They literally named their kid after a sports network! It was pronounced 'ess-pen'. This one seems like bordering on child abuse! Are they going to have another kid named MTV?
Even some of the good names are being mangled. I met a little girl named Cadence a few months ago, and told her what a pretty name she had. Then I saw a certificate she got from school, and saw how her name was spelled. KAEDYNCE!! Can you believe it? She is going to have her name spelled wrong her entire life. She will have people mispronounce her name forever.
I had a friend in high school named Penny Nickels. The name Penny is fine out of context, but mixed with that last name... I still want to smack her parents. I had another friend named Crystal and her sister was Christy. That's pretty much naming 2 kids the same thing. I babysit 3 little girls named Indigo, Madeline, and Eleanor. My problem with that is in the same family, we have a very weird name (Indigo), a very trendy name (Madeline) and a very old-fashioned name (Eleanor). It seems unfair to give one kid a weird name and the other two fairly normal ones.
Some names are very pretty, but have multiple pronunciations. I have a friend with a daughter named Talia. Beautiful name, but the problem is people never know whether to say 'Tallie-a' or 'Tawli-a'. Same with Alicia. Is it 'Alee-see-a' or Alee-sha'? I just mentioned the name Madeline, but is it Mad-a-line or Mad-a-lyn? These names might not make your kids into freaks at school, but it will be super annoying to correct people on your name hundreds or thousands of times.
Throwing punctuation into names seems to be on the rise too, and it's just obnoxious. I knew 2 sisters named C'Eleste and K'Leigh (pronounced Kaylee). Those would be nice names if the mom didn't mess them up with apostrophes and weird spelling. There was another little girl named Le-a and her teachers keep calling her Leah or Leia. Finally her mom had to come in and explain that the pronunciation of her daughters name was Ledasha. You are supposed to pronounce the dash. Insane! Punctuation in a name is just going to cause problems in spelling, pronunciation, and you know when you have to fill out a form and it says, 'please print your full name, no punctuation, numbers, or other characters.' Problem if punctuation is IN your name.
I love the idea of naming your child after your heritage, however, there are some names that are normal names in other countries, but really do not work here. I met a precious baby girl named Kaylee (yep, another one)... then I found out her name was spelled Ceildh. I guess it's the Welsh spelling of it, but no one over here is going to read that name and automatically think Kaylee. Same with Rhys. It's a great Welsh name, and Reese is a great name for America, but you need to adjust the spelling depending on what side of the pond you are living. Over here your darling little Rhys is going to be called 'Rice". In high school I knew a boy named Anibal. I don't remember what country he was from, but I remember everyone calling him 'Annabelle' to be mean. When I was a kid I knew twin Japanese girls named Christy and Toshi. Their dad was from Japan, and the mom was American, so they thought it would be cute to name one twin an American name and one a Japanese name. Sure, very fun and cute for the parents, but they did live in America, so poor Toshi was the one with the 'weird' name and she couldn't even commiserate with her own twin. If you are going to make one twin a target by giving them an unusual name, give them both weird names so at least they have an ally when the teasing starts.
One more thing to watch out for is the gender change of a lot of names. Girls seem to be taking over the boys names! You never meet little boy Lindsays or Ashleys anymore. Even some of the more modern names for boys are taken over by girls. When was the last time anyone met a little boy Morgan, Taylor, or Jordan? Are these names still borderline, or are they considered girly? Little boys are quick to use 'girly' as an insult to their peers, so make sure you give your son a definitely masculine name. Girls can pull off boys names much better in our society, sad but true.
I'm not saying it's right that kids are treated differently because of their names, but that's the way it is. It would be great to change that kind of thinking in children, but you are not going to change the world by naming your kid something weird. Remember, you may think a name is cute or fun, but your child has to deal with all the baggage that goes with it. Kids can be very cruel in social groups, parents should be arming them against this, not making them even bigger targets. I think it is fine if people don't want another John or Jane, but why get completely weird with it? There are plenty of names that are very pretty, not that common, but are still actual names that won't turn your kid into a laughing stock.
at 8:51 AM