Thursday, January 28, 2010

What's in a name?

I have seen some crazy names in my time. Every year, I had at least 3 other Jennifers in my class. This meant some years I had to go by Jenny, sometimes Jennifer, sometimes Jen M.  I decided early on that when I had kids, they wouldn't have any name that was too popular.  My search for nonstandard names led to a lot of analysis over what makes good names. First and foremost I have to like it. It has to be pretty easy to recognize and pronounce. It has to have a strong meaning- whether that is it's traditional meaning or the meaning it has for us. Finally, it cannot provide easy fodder for children to make fun of them. I had Ciara's name picked out in college. Unfortunately, not too many celts live in the south, or west, where we were- so we fiddled with the spelling. She became Kiera, our little dark haired one. It fit her. 

Phillip was fairly easy, the biggest problem was when we found out he wasn't a Kiera. Of course we could have named him Kieran, but Kiera was my girl's name, I didn't want to use it in case we had a girl later. Plus that would get really confusing when I was calling them for dinner, or when someone asked for them on the phone.  Had I known then that I would forever be calling my children by the other kids' names- I wouldn't have fretted so much over names sounding too similar. Why not alleviate all confusion and just use the same name? Plus I like the name Phillip- It's convenient when I need gas in the car- or a screwdriver- and nowadays I have the littler ones asking why daddy and Phillip get their name on the TV and Kiera wants to know why they forgot an 'L'. 

Then I had my 3rd pregnancy. I found out I was far too tired and busy to fret over whether a name was too popular. We had a neighbor with a Lily and I loved the sound of it. Our wedding flowers-all 12 of them- were lilies. Stargazer lilies, my favorite. Who woulda figured we would end up with a Tiger Lily?  I love feminine sounding names. I never have been into frilly, lacey, bowy things, but for my girls names I like girly. I lived through the trendy periods of unisex names and creatively spelled standard names. I lived through- Is that Gennifer with a G? No actually it's a silent Q in front of the J. 

But then there was the 4th pregnancy. My creative resources for girls' names had been exhausted. We had no short list. The lists had all been crossed out the year before. We had no choice but to depart with disyllabic names. I didn't even take the time to check the top 10 names of the year, I liked Isabella. Apparently most moms that year did too. We could call her Bella for short, we learned that often times names fit children- you can't go wrong with a name that means beautiful. There must be a hidden meaning lost generations ago....perhaps..beautiful but clumsy...or pesky beauty.

Today we had parent teacher conferences. Had I half a brain when I was pregnant- I would have asked my teacher friends for the perfect name. They probably would have told me that Lily's are intelligent, inquisitive, and have a stubborn streak. Bella's are quiet but constantly challenging boundaries. We learned that Phillip doesn't really love horses- but that he has inherited his father's quick wit and general likeability. As usual he is doing fine in school and has the appropriate motivation. Kiera has shown much improvement. We are trying to find different approaches to help her process and learn with minimal frustration for everyone. She's still struggling in the standards based curriculum, and I think neither the test nor the standards adequately reflect  or enhance her learning. Either way- I will stay the course and hopefully give her skills she will need to succeed.  I was slightly concerned though after our meeting with Phillip's teacher. Kiera and the other girls had been quietly coloring at desks. Apparently one of the girls "borrowed" a pen out of one of the desks. Kiera quickly commandeered the pen to point out her sibling's shenanigans and absolve herself of any blame. We had run long in our conference and I wanted to return the pen to the correct desk and depart. Kiera offers up the pen and says it has a name on it, but it's just letters. Great. Apparently Kiera took all this visual processing difficulty we discussed about her to heart.  Phil takes the pen- "huh, it's not a name, it just has Abcde written on it."  Phillip and his teacher in unison say "oh that's Abcde(Absidee)'s" and point to the correct desk. Not in all of my name quests did I think to just write down the first 5 letters of the alphabet.


Amy said...

Instead of counting sheep last night, I tried making names for the entire alphabet: C-def, Ghijk(gi-jik), etc. Fun brain exercise; baaad names...

Angela said...

Huh, that could have come in handy when we were trying to name Aidan with a "R" maybe he could have been Rstuv--pronounced "Roos-tuex" Kinda catchy!