Names have always been fascinating to me. When I was younger I always would always beg my mom, a labor and delivery nurse, to tell me the names she would hear new babies receive. Some were traditional, some trendy, and then there were my personal favorites: a combo of mom and dads names together!
Growing up, Camille Veal made me very wary of what I was going to name my children. I’ve learned to appreciate my maiden name, but in elementary and middle school it was a different story. The rhyming name with odd-then, hip-now first name with the politically incorrect meat last name was the perfect storm for teasing in a land of Jessica’s, Brittany’s, and Ashley’s. When the time came to name my own children, I knew what I had to do. Here are a few factors I had to consider:
My kids names are common and boring, and that’s on purpose. They both have Biblical-ish names so I didn’t want to jazz them up with extra letters and different spellings. I know how hard it is to find a key chain so I didn’t want to pass that down. Also with the whole divorced, remarried thing, my little ones don’t have the same last name. But having all of our names beginning with the same letter (including the dog!) brings some uniformity in our family.
I’m not nickname person. I have silly pet names that I circulate through for my little ones but none that piggyback off their names. Or that actually stick. I grew up with so many cousins and uncles in South Louisiana where I didn’t learn their actual name until I was an adult. It’s sweet, but I’m always shocked when I get a Facebook request from a cousin with a government name!
Ah yes. I have to go there. Being a woman of color, unfortunately, I have to consider how well a name would be received. I understand that this is definitely a form of assimilation, but here we are. The documentary Freakonomics showed that a resume with a traditional Caucasian name got a response six weeks faster for a job opportunity than a resume with a stereotypical black name. I know several people in my family and friends circle who go by either their middle name or a different version of their first name to avoid it sounding too ethnic. I don’t doubt other cultures have to do this also, but it’s something I was particularly mindful of.
Picking out your child’s name is an event that requires so much thought. We have so many influences and resources, it’s even hard to narrow down. You never know where that little name is going to go! Except in the case of my oldest son Caleb, he’s always going to be at least one of three in his class.