The Lydster, Part 106: What's in a name?

Cheri at Idle Chatter was answering some quiz. One question was: “What are your favorite boy/girl baby names?” Fact is that, prior to my wife getting pregnant ten years ago this coming summer, I hadn’t given it much thought. I suppose some people fantasize about having children and make lists. For me, though, I was 50, hadn’t had a child, might not have a child, so it wasn’t anything I really considered.

As it turned out, it became more about rules, primarily my rules, negative rules, which Carol was not aware of. Heck, *I* wasn’t aware of my naming rules. When you’ve never had a child, naming is more a conceptual thing, as it were.

So the rules were:

*No name in the top 10 in the Social Security list of most popular names for the most recent year available, which for us was 2002.

There will be enough Emmas in her kindergarten class, though Emma IS a lovely name.
2011 3
2010 3
2009 2
2008 1
2007 3
2006 2
2005 2
2004 2
2003 2
2002 4
2001 13
2000 17
1999 17

Actually, the names we did like, besides Olivia, were not in the Top 10 in 2002, from which we would have been deciding, but are now:

2011 4
2010 4
2009 3
2008 4
2007 7
2006 7
2005 5
2004 4
2003 5
2002 10
2001 10
2000 16
1999 20

2011 2
2010 1
2009 1
2008 2
2007 2
2006 4
2005 6
2004 7
2003 11
2002 14
2001 28
2000 45
1999 60

2011 1
2010 2
2009 4
2008 7
2007 6
2006 9
2005 12
2004 15
2003 20
2002 27
2001 37
2000 42
1999 53
Sophia, not incidentally, is the name of the American Girl doll the Daughter got for Christmas that sort of looks like her.

2011 96
2010 110
2009 118
2008 120
2007 124
2006 130
2005 119
2004 126
2003 127
2002 137
2001 140
2000 148
1999 149

*No naming after any family member, living or dead. I want her to have her own identity. And I didn’t want, “Oh, you named her after Aunt Hortense!” We’ll call her Little Horty!” No, you won’t.

Actually, I would have considered Charlotte, after my great aunt Charlotte, who had died a couple years earlier, truth to tell. And my mother was living in Charlotte, NC; we referred to her, my late father, my baby sister and her daughter as the Charlotte Greens. But The Wife wanted to consider Ann, which is her middle name and her mother’s first name; so I nixed both names.

*No unisex names: Terry, Madison, Lynn, e.g.

This comes directly from the fact that my father AND my sister were both named Leslie. Confusion ensued, and often at my expense. Since my father had a child named Leslie, it was ASSUMED it was his ONLY son, i.e., me. “Hey, little Les,” one guy from church constantly called me. “That’s NOT my name,” I’d mutter under my breath (but never aloud, for that would have been considered rude.)

*It had to have two or more syllables, to balance off the shortness of Green.

That was my other objection to Ann.

*No names that easily went to the nickname. Elizabeth is in the top 10 anyway, and which variation (Liz, Lizzie, Beth, Betty, Betsy, or several others) would ensued? No thanks.

Elizabeth is beautiful. It’s my mother’s middle name, and also the middle name of my second niece.

2011 11
2010 12
2009 11
2008 9
2007 10
2006 11
2005 11
2004 10
2003 9
2002 11
2001 9
2000 9
1999 10

*It should have a recognizable spelling. So, by definition, no really weird names.

While a few people have girls named Lidia – not in the Top 1000 names over the past decade – most have opted for the more traditional option.

Coincidentally, one of my friends adopted a daughter named Lidia; Lydia and Lidia went to preschool together for a year, and now are in the same Sunday school class.

*No names beginning and ending with A.

This is a practical consideration. I have a niece named Alexandria. Carol has nieces named Adrianna and Alexa. One of Carol’s best friends has a daughter named Ariana. And there are several others. Having but one child, I didn’t want to run through a litany before I found hers.

So, Lydia it was, named in part after a woman in the book of Acts, in the New Testament, who was rich even to put up the apostle Paul and this cohorts. It was only later that a friend pointed out that the church I attended as a child, Trinity A.M.E. Zion, was on the corner of Lydia and Oak, and that I walked down Lydia Street every day on my way to school. Obviously, I knew this to be factually true, but never crossed my consciousness.

Now, if we had had another girl, I have no idea WHAT we would have named her. And if we had a boy, there was never a real settling on a name. My wife says I agreed to something – I’m blocking on it – that when she said it later, I said, “Really? No way.”

If Lydia had been a boy, his name would probably still be Male Child Green.
My church is celebrating its 250th birthday this year, and in particular, tomorrow. The Daughter participated at the unveiling of the refurbished diorama, with the directive to fix it up 50 years from now…

[This is a rewrite of something I posted my very first month of blogging, in May 2005.]

5 thoughts on “The Lydster, Part 106: What's in a name?”

  1. Roger, so glad to read this. Went through the same process, and since Rob was Jewish, there’s the tradition of never naming someone after a relative (it’s like replacing them before they’re gone), which was fine by me. Also, you will NEVER meet a Jewish man who is a “Junior.” Same reason.

    The last name Weinberger being hard to match (better a shorter name)… I was at a family gathering (back when we liked each other) and my nephew Matt, then 4 years old, patted my belly and said, “Boy or girl?” Told him we didn’t know by choice. “But if it’s a girl, we’ve already decided on —“. (I keep Riley’s real name out of the blogs) “And if it’s a boy?” I got a sneaky look and said, “How about Willllliam Wennndellll Weinberger?!” He made a face and told me he’d come up with something good.

    Half hour later, he’s back. “I thought of a name if it’s a boy.” I was so pleased! Then he says, “Beehat.” I said, “Beehat? Um, what does that name mean?” And he rolls his eyes, puts his hand on his hip and with the GREATEST attitude one can conjure at age four, says: “It MEANS a BEE wearing a HAT, Aunt Amy.” Like, “Duh!!”

    To this day, we remember that Riley, in utero was Beehat. And I named my music label, Beehat Baby Music, after her. Coolest part, Riley designed the logo!! Thought you’d appreciate this – an Art Linkletter moment. Amy


  2. It’s interesting; my son’s first name is my dad’s; his middle name (and also my husband’s middle name) is hubby’s dad’s name. However, my dad had already passed away when we had Billy. I’ve often thought that had he still been living, I might not have felt as strongly about naming him after him. Might even have not wanted to, as you say. I think lots of strange feelings go into sharing a name.

    On the other hand, good for you for not wanting to stick her with an unusual spelling. As someone who grew up never getting any sort of personalized souvenir while on vacation, I knew I’d never inflict that on my child.


  3. Ah yes, the naming of a child is big business! The oldest poured over name books and nixed anything and everything in the top ten for the past 5 years. Entrepreneur and I went to the hospital when our youngest was born without a boy’s name option. Good thing we didn’t need it!


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