Monday, November 29, 2010

Constraint Satisfaction

Several weeks ago, I wrote another in a series of agonizing posts
about trying to find a name for Kermit. At the time, we had it narrowed down to five possibilities, and I was desperate to narrow it down more than that, and soon. After much more deliberation with S, we decided to just pick the front runner and treat it like a done deal. Assume that's the name, start using it around the house, kick the tires a bit and see how it feels.

There's a certain relief that comes with feeling like a decision has been made, even if we can still change our minds many many times between now and Kermit's arrival. The name that we picked has grown on me more and more, and at this point, I'm fairly happy with it. S wants to kick it around a bit more before he declares it "the name," but says that if Kermit were born today, he'd be happy with it. For now, that's good enough for me. We probably have several more weeks to decide for sure anyway.

Two months ago, when we took LL for his two-year checkup, we informed our wonderful pediatrician, Dr. K, that she would soon be acquiring a new patient. She was very happy for us, and asked if she could help in any way. I was mostly joking, but I asked her if she'd heard any cool baby names recently that she thought we'd like. I figured, who better to have the pulse of local baby naming trends than a pediatrician with a growing practice? Her whole face lit up and she said, "Ooooh, I love helping with names! Any name requirements that I should know about?" We briefly outlined our constraints for her, and she said that she'd give it some thought and get back to us.

Fast forward to this morning, when I left a phone message for Dr. K about some minor tummy trouble that LL's been experiencing for the past week, just to make sure that we're "treating" it correctly at home. When she called me back, she said, "I'll talk to you about LL in a minute, but I've been meaning to call you about names! I've thought a lot about it, and I have the perfect name for you guys!" And then she said the exact name that S and I had already decided on.

After a short stunned silence, I just said, "You're kidding!" which she took to mean that I hated the name and was disappointed in her. She explained to me that she thought it was just so perfect, given our constraints, and it worked with LL's name, and she liked how it sounded with our last name. And she said that she normally puts together a list of 5-10 names for people, but with us, she hit on just this one name and thought that it worked so well that she just had to tell me.

And then I had to tell her that she was creeping me out, because that was the name that we had all but decided on. What are the odds that she'd pick the exact same one? (For the record, this is not a common name, or a trendy name; it's not like she picked the #1 most popular name, or #1 fastest growing name, or anything like that. It seems to me to be very random that we came up with the exact same name.) And she laughed, and then said very seriously that she is quite good at naming babies.

I've mentioned the name to a very small number of other people in the last few weeks, but I hardly expect people to really give an expectant mother an honest opinion on this sort of thing -- unless the person visibly cringes when you tell them, it's hard to judge whether they liked it or are just being polite. But getting the impartial out-of-the-blue recommendation from Dr. K feels like real third-party confirmation that this name works. Silly but true. And despite my contrarian reputation, that makes me like it even more.

I suppose it is possible that our constraints are very, um, constraining. But I do not believe that they are soooooo constraining that, given a list of every possible name in the world, they narrow the set down to a unique single possibility. But apparently they do. Who knew? And now we are officially barred from ever having another son, because there isn't a single name left that he could use. We've apparently already chosen the only name that works.

1 comment:

  1. If it is the name I think it is, I think you've made an excellent choice. Actually, all the names on your short list were good.

    That is fantastic that she came up with the same name!


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