There has been a lot of hoopla in the media recently about celebrities giving their kids unusual (or just plain weird) names. That is nothing new in the South. The Tiny Kingdom has strict rules for naming children. Of course, this involves two decisions: what to name the child, and what to call the child. I don’t think a lot of parents have exercised good judgment on either the naming or calling parts.
There are specific rules for naming boys. The first one is named after the father. For some reason, men seem to be obsessed with having a son with the same name so that there are a lot of Jr.’s and III’s and even IV’s around here. The only reason we don’t have a lot of Henry the VIII’s and Thomas the X’s is that the Tiny Kingdom has not been around long enough.
So what do you call the boy? In my view, the bad idea is to call the child the same name as the father, so that for the next fifty years everyone refers to “Big David” and “Little David.” Isn’t “Little David” a bit emasculating? A better option is to give the kid a nickname, like Dave.
However, many people opt for The Awkward Other Name. Thus, if the father is John Bromberg White, instead of calling the kid “Jack,” (best choice) the kid will be called “Bromberg” or “Brom” or “Berg” or some such nonsense.
The rules change if the child is a III. These children are traditionally called “Trip” or “Tripp” or “Trey” (or even “Tres” if you are Southern-Hispanic). It is also permissible to call a III “Bo” for no apparent reason.
Subsequent boys are either given fashionable Biblical names (Noah, Ethan, Caleb, Jeremiah) or other family names (Sterling, Oakdale, Withers, Trout). If you look at a team roster in the Tiny Kingdom, you might think you were looking at a list of the members of Parliament, not a bunch of six-year-old soccer players.
The rules for girls are also widely understood. The first girl is given the mother’s maiden name, except in the most extreme cases. Thus, there are many girls with names like “Harris” and “Bradford” and “Elliott.” I suppose this is okay, although it means there are a lot of females walking around the Tiny Kingdom with male names. I personally believe this is a huge waste of girly names. I had a million names for girls picked out, and I was so sure Porter was going to be a girl that I called him “Amelia” right until the time he was born and I saw his privates. At that point I had to make a change.
The worst part, though, is that so many of the girls have hideous double names. I do not mean the entirely acceptable “Mary Anne.” I am talking “Stephanie Alexandra” or “Mary Bradford” or “Helen Elizabeth.”
There are a number of problems with this. First, a kid’s name needs to be succinct enough that you can call it loudly and quickly when the kid is in trouble without getting short of breath or forgetting it entirely. “Stephanie Alexandra” does not exactly roll off the tongue.
Another problem is that these names make the parents look indecisive. I always imagine the parents in the delivery room, looking at the newborn. The mom says through gritted teeth, “Honey, I did not just squeeze out a baby the size of a large turkey just to call her some trashy name like Colby. I do not care if it is your favorite cheese.”
And the new father says, “I know you had your heart set on Caroline. Surely we could compromise.”
How could two such otherwise sensible people agree that it would be a good idea to call the child “Colby Caroline?” What are they putting in the epidurals these days?
Some unfortunate girls are lovely in all other respects, but are saddled with names like “Edith Irene” or “Lella Ruby.” My best guess is that these children have parents who are obviously trying to please all the rich old lady relatives they have, in the hopes of ensuring their inheritances so they can (hopefully sooner rather than later) use their bequests to redo the house and add on a playroom and a master suite.
One family in town has three girls, ALL with double names! How long does it take to label each one’s lunch box? To teach each one to write her own name? To call them all for dinner? To introduce them to a stranger? (“No, this is “Daisy Mae,” not “Daisy Anne.” THAT is “Anne Bickford,” NOT “Mary Bickford.” And this is Mary Boswell, not Mary Mae.”)
Another problem I foresee is that if this keeps up, the grandchildren of these girls are really going to be carrying around some lengthy monikers. I don’t think it will be long before Colby Caroline’s granddaughter marries Mary Boswell’s grandson, and then all hell will break loose in the delivery room.
Bill recently coached a soccer game in which three girls were added to his team. Between them they had six names, and Bill never could get them straight, so in the heat of the match, he yelled “Ponytail, kick towards the goal!” and “Blue headband, pass to curly-headed girl!” It all sounded very professional.
The double name phenomenon is filtering over to the boys. Drew has two boys in his class with double names: Anthony Sean and Richard Bryant. In case you are considering blessing your baby with this type of moniker, let me remind you that these lengthy names cannot be crowded on the back of a sports jersey. These boys are known as “Ant. Sean” and “Rich. Bryant” in the Tball world.
I am also worried about what will happen if the double named children marry each other and then have to pick out name cards to put on presents. Can you fit “Merry Christmas from Edith Irene and Anthony Sean O’Malley” on a card and still have room for a Christmas themed border?
Now, you might think that this is hypocritical coming from a woman with one son named after a small Scandinavian country and another who sounds like a fat grandpa. But we followed our own rules in naming our boys. Each is named after a different grandfather. Bill’s grandfather was nicknamed “Finn” (no one seems to know why) and he went by “Finn Glamore” his entire life. Drew and Porter are named after each of my grandfathers.
Weird or not, I can write, yell and introduce Finn, Drew and Porter quickly. Their names fit easily on the back of their jerseys, and because you pay for the labeling by the letter, I am saving a lot of money compared to Anthony Sean’s parents.
I’ll admit, when I introduce Finn, I often have to say, “Finn: F-I-N-N, like a Norwegian or a Swede.” But still, I’d rather be named after a country than six old great aunts.
By the way, if you are having a baby girl and
are having trouble thinking up beautiful, feminine names, email me. I
have a huge list of names I never got to use and I am happy to share.