Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Names and Such

Not to state the obvious or anything, but picking a name is hard! I really hate it. When we were picking a name for LL, we settled on his name fairly quickly, despite some ridiculous naming constraints (mostly self-imposed). (Those constraints are detailed here.) Not that we didn't have lots of doubts along the way. We certainly did. But we always came back to LL. Two years later, I still love LL's name. Love it. Never regretted it. But now I can't find anything else that I like. And it should be easier this time, too, because we're not working with any first-letter constraints for the first name. Here are the goals this time around, focusing just on the English-first-name issues, leaving aside the Japanese-middle-name issues and the Hebrew-first-name issues:

1. It has to sound at least vaguely Jewish. Kermit's middle name and last name will be Japanese, so it's important to us that his Jewish heritage be apparent in his first name. I'll admit that we're easing up on this restriction a bit the more we struggle with names, but we draw the line at anything too WASPy or New Testament. Which is a shame, because I really like some of the preppy WASPy names.

2. Nothing too off-the-wall. I don't want people struggling to pronounce it.

3. Nothing too high up on the popularity charts. In my perfect world scenario, everyone has heard the name, and thinks it's cute, but nobody personally knows anyone with the name. (Probably a pipe dream, I know, but I think that we managed to hit this one with LL's name.)

4. Some sort of nickname possibility. I always regretted not having a nickname, and I want the kid to have options.

5. It has to sound good with our highly unusual last name. This one is actually fairly problematic. Lots of names become really odd tongue twisters when paired with our last name.

6. Nobody in our family can have the name (this is a Jewish tradition/superstition). We'd prefer if it's not the name of any of our close friends or their kids, either. And, um, no ex-boyfriends. There's a name I like that fits all the other criteria, but I dated a guy with that name for like 3 seconds in college, and when I bring it up as a possibility, S says, "You mean like your ex-boyfriend?" So I guess that's a rule or something.

I keep reminding myself to be open-minded. When we picked LL's name, we weren't completely thrilled with it at first. We kept going back and expanding our list to include more names, but then we'd always (somewhat reluctantly) come back to LL. It took us a month or two of kicking the tires and using it in conversation before we were really comfortable with it. As soon as he was born, we knew it was right, but it took a while for it to seem that familiar. I'm hoping for a similar experience this time around, and I keep reminding myself that all names will sound slightly awkward to me at first, but I need to give them time. But the only way that's going to happen is if we manage to narrow to a short list early enough to give us time to grow comfortable with any of the names. So far, nothing.

On a slightly related note, we need to find a new mohel. We struggled long and hard with that decision last time, too, and ended up with a guy that we really liked. But apparently he retired sometime in the last two years. (Or moved away. Or died. I don't actually know which. But, um, he's not available anymore.) So now we need to find somebody new. Also, I'm not normally a gender-stereotype person, but female mohels seem "wrong" somehow. (I'm saying this as a woman in a male-dominated field, with a female rabbi and a male OB/GYN. These things normally don't bother me at all. But I just can't hire a female mohel. Not sure why. Is it just me?) And it turns out that most of the mohels (yes, more than 50%) working in my (fairly small) Jewish community are women. My synagogue has so far been very little help. Blech, decisions.


  1. You know, I cannot help with pretty much anything in here. Only, I can tell you that if I allowed it, Matt would name a boy child of ours Kermit.

  2. I'm impressed that you are already trying out names. We (accidentally) waited until after the fusspot's birth to work on names, which resulted in the disastrous situation of JD back at work, me home alone with a less than 24 hour old baby, negotiating through his secretary over names (the discharge nurse offered to 'misfile her paperwork' but only for 24 hours) ... and while I love her name, we have yet to 100% finalize her middle name. In my husband's tradition (Chinese), it is taboo to 'reuse' a family name, where as in my family it is quite required to fish far enough back in the family tree to find a similar-sounding relative (we don't do just first letter, but also don't repeat full names necessarily). And I also want something that makes my child's ethnic/religious identity clear (so strong preference for no biblical names since they are common in the Chinese Christian community). Best of luck with the naming and I do hope you'll share with your blog, even if only temporarily.

    And I have to admit, I am a total idiot who did not realize your husband is of Japanese ancestry until this post.

  3. I like a challenge. That said, I'm finding the nickname-ability to be the hardest part. So not all of these are nicknamable.

    Asher (too popular/on the rise?)
    Ezra (too tough with the LN?)
    Amos (a name belonging to someone I dated briefly in college)
    Abraham (which I loooove but P does not, plus it's getting popular -- Abram, instead?)

    I would highly recommend posting your challenge as a comment to the current post on the Baby Name Wizard blog. People there have a ton of creative ideas.

  4. I remember how hard it was to come up with LL's name. Ack! Good luck!


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