Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Name Game

Today's topic is The Name:  Why Does Everyone Want to Know It?

I'm becoming increasingly convinced that there's a standard set of pregnancy-related questions ingrained in our brains that we must ask, in a particular order, whenever we make conversation with a pregnant woman.  I'm quite certain that I'm as guilty of this as anyone, although I might try to reform myself now that I've been on the receiving end of these queries .

Question One:  When are you due?

I don't mind this question at all.  It's simple, straightforward, and has a (sort-of) definite answer.  (Note:  I do mind the follow-up comment I tend to receive, as a woman who is due in September-- "Oh, you'll have to put up with that summer heat!"  Um, okay.  Yes, it will be hot when I'm late in my pregnancy.  I COULD NOT CARE LESS.  I know people are well-meaning, but what is there to be gained by this comment?  I can't move my due date.  I can't control the weather.  I do have access to a fully air-conditioned house, fully air-conditioned car, and a multitude of air-conditioned stores, restaurants, movie theaters, and the like.  Besides, I'm just so freaking GRATEFUL to be pregnant at any time of the year that I'll happily waddle and sweat through a scorcher of a summer, thankyouverymuch, if it means a baby in the end!  I also have plenty of friends who would be utterly ecstatic to be similarly expecting at any time, so heat = not exactly my biggest worry.)

Question Number Two:  Are you having a boy or a girl?  

I also don't mind this question, because it's easy to answer.  I'd love to know how any ladies felt who did not find out the baby's sex, because I have a feeling that telling people you're not finding out throws them for a little bit of a loop; after all, they can't then easily segue into Question Number Three.  There's a part of me that thinks it would be fun to be surprised at the birth, and when David and I first got married-- during those heady early days when I presumed I'd get pregnant within three months, not after three years-- I thought we'd at least want our first to be a "surprise."  Ultimately, though, there was no way on God's green earth that I wanted to wait to find out-- I figured I'd waited long enough already.

Question Number Three:  What are you going to name him?

This is the question that bugs me, and I started receiving this question literally the day we announced that we're having a boy.  People REALLY don't seem to like it when I don't offer up a name for their approval.  I've been able to slide by so far by saying that "we're still deciding," which is completely true.  We have at least five different names on the table, and I wouldn't be surprised if we don't make a final decision until we meet our son face-to-face.  

But suppose we had actually made up our minds, but didn't want to share the name with anyone yet?  People can be really judgmental about silly things-- MYSELF INCLUDED, HELLO-- and the last thing a pregnant woman needs is name criticism.  Once the baby is here, his name is just his name, and I think folks are a little less apt to be judgy to your face about the name.  It's on the birth certificate; it's done; get over it.  They might question your sanity behind your back (again, HELLO:  ME), but they're highly unlikely to ask whether you're sure that choosing Lemonjello was such a good idea.  

I recently heard a baby name HORROR STORY from a girlfriend of mine.  A friend of hers was pregnant with her first child, a girl.  She and her husband had decided to name their daughter Harper Paige.  Now, I happen to think that Harper Paige is a completely adorable name for a little girl; it sounds distinctly Southern and reminds me of Harper Lee.  The poor woman's mother-in-law, however, was less enamored with the name, and said so to everyone who would listen, including the parents-to-be.  

One night at a big family dinner, the mother-to-be asked her mother-in-law whether she and the father-in-law were still planning to get a new dog; they'd been talking about it for a while, but had not yet pulled the trigger.  Everyone at the table broke out into giggles and snickers, as the poor mom-to-be and her husband looked around in confusion.  Apparently the mother-in-law had been telling the rest of the family that she was going to purposely get the new dog earlier than planned-- before her granddaughter's birth-- so that she could name the dog Harper and thwart her son and daughter-in-law's plans to bestow the name on their new baby.

Thankfully, the father-to-be gave his mother a good talking-to (I'm all for honoring your father and your mother, but I think in this case the son was completely in the right to stand up for his wife and soon-to-be-born daughter), and the baby was indeed named Harper Paige.  

I cannot imagine anyone in my family or David's family or any of our friends behaving so appallingly.  But I still feel really strongly that our son's name should be our decision, without any outside influence-- no matter how loving or well-intentioned.  So don't be offended when you ask me what we're naming him, and I completely dodge your question.  We truly haven't decided yet, and even if we had, I want to reserve the right to change my mind right up to the last minute.

I can say this about our son's name:  It will be traditional.  It will be a biblical name and/or saint's name.  It will be spelled properly.  Beyond that, well, let's meet the kid first.  Then we'll know whether he looks more like a Polycarp or a Sixtus.  



PrinceOfTheWest said...

Hey, Polycarp and Sixtus are perfectly acceptable names. So are Cosmos and Damian (actually, you see that latter one around from time to time).

nowealthbutlife said...

I completely agree. I've always been a fan of parents not revealing names until they are introducing the child to the world. It helps to keep people from being as insanely rude when they realize that the name is set.

If you told me that your child's name was Polycarp I would try to say something polite about the Saint. But I am glad that you are joking, because how many horrible nicknames would the poor boy have to deal with?! The running joke in my family is that my husband will name all of our children after the Church Councils. If that were to happen I'd really hope that we could skip around a bit. Somehow Nicaea and Trent just seem better names than Vatican II or Constantinople III! ;-)

sonetka said...

I love Polycarp and Sixtus! (As middle names, I should say - I'm a firm proponent of wacky or at least slightly nonstandard middle names). We didn't give away our names either, largely from superstition but also because, well, *something* has to be a surprise if people already know the sex. Plus, you do get to avoid having everyone chime in ahead of time. Personally, Harper wouldn't be my choice for a girl, but I can't imagine being so rude as to try and head someone off by naming my dog that!

One question we got all the time with our son was whether he was going to be a Junior. He wasn't, and isn't. Some people - mostly older ladies - just couldn't let this go and kept insisting that he NEEDED to be a junior. I have no idea where that came from. Oddly, nobody said that when we had our daughter :).

George said...

So, uhhh... what're you naming him?