THE NAME GAME

Re­veals how agree­ing upon the per­fect moniker proved to be a nine-month or­deal – both times

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Colum­nist Casey Mcpike on the dif­fi­cul­ties of choos­ing a moniker

CASEY MCPIKE

Be­fore I had my own ba­bies, I couldn’t un­der­stand why peo­ple would say, “Still de­cid­ing on a name” in their birth an­nounce­ment. What? You’ve had nine months to pre­pare for this mo­ment! How hard is it to choose a name? Er, ac­tu­ally harder than it looks, I dis­cov­ered when preg­nant for the first time. Jeremy (my hus­band) and I had de­cided not to find out what we were hav­ing, so we needed op­tions both ways. We set perime­ters on name-choos­ing rules, such as check­ing there were no no­to­ri­ous crim­i­nals with that moniker, no names of ex-part­ners or mea­nies from school, and mak­ing sure it wouldn’t sound silly with our last name (when we got mar­ried, I was keen on hav­ing one fam­ily sur­name, but filled out the forms some­what re­luc­tantly be­cause my mar­ried name makes me sound like a drunk Ir­ish­man). We both loved the same boy’s name. Sorted. A girl’s mid­dle name would be Clare, af­ter my mother. BAM, we were nail­ing this nam­ing thing and I was only about eleven min­utes preg­nant. But then we needed a girl first-name op­tion. My favourite name for­ever had been Nina, but that’s what all the grand­kids call my mother in law, so it was struck off for be­ing too con­fus­ing. Both of us loved the name Frankie, but we’d al­ready used that name up (with­out much fore­sight) on our cat. Jeremy didn’t like my sug­ges­tions, and I didn’t like his. And so be­gan months of con­ver­sa­tions that started with me en­thu­si­as­ti­cally read­ing from a long list I’d com­piled that day, then ended with me huffily say­ing, “Well, YOU think of a bet­ter op­tion then. No, not that one. Not that one ei­ther.” We opened the floor to fam­ily and friends. Ideas flew thick and fast, but none of them were quite right. I started watch­ing the cred­its of movies and TV pro­grammes, in the hope that I’d spot The Per­fect Name scrolling up our screen. Nope. One evening af­ter talk­ing on the phone to my best friend Amy (while mak­ing a vat of por­ridge for my post-din­ner snack), I wad­dled back to the couch and Jeremy said, “Amy is a re­ally nice name. Have you ever met an Amy you didn’t like?” I im­me­di­ately looked up the mean­ing and hor­mon­ally shouted, “it means ‘beloved’ or ‘loved friend’! It’s go­ing on the short­list!” Not long af­ter, our beau­ti­ful daugh­ter was placed on my chest, and we im­me­di­ately agreed she was an Amy. Best-friend Amy was thrilled, promptly got a puppy and named it Jeremy. Sec­ond time around, I un­der­stood why one of my friends got an of­fi­cial gov­ern­ment depart­ment let­ter stat­ing they had to reg­is­ter a name for their third baby or one would be al­lo­cated to him. We still had our boy name up our sleeve, but not an agreed-upon girl name. I’d pulled out my old short­list, but all op­tions were re­jected. We started pon­der­ing if hav­ing a cat and a baby with the same name would re­ally be such a bad thing. To fur­ther com­pli­cate things for our­selves, we re­alised that all our names (in­clud­ing the cat’s) ended in an “ee” sound. Would child #2 feel left out if theirs didn’t, too? Some­thing to pon­der as I ate my nightly tub of ice cream. A few nights be­fore baby #2 was due to make a name­less ap­pear­ance, as my lat­est sug­ges­tion had just been re­jected for sound­ing like a strip­per’s name, I sat down to read a new book to Amy. I didn’t have a whole lot of en­ergy (or an­kles, for that mat­ter), but I was to­tally into the main char­ac­ter in the story – a lit­tle cutie called Tilly. “Hey, ‘Tilly’ is a re­ally nice name,” said Jeremy as he walked past on his way to find me another bag of chips. “If the baby is a girl we should call her Tilly.” And so we did. Sev­eral days later, I was ex­plain­ing to the hos­pi­tal mid­wife prod­ding my breasts that Tilly’s mid­dle name was Judge, af­ter my Granny (that was her last name), which I hoped would bal­ance out the cute­ness of a name like Tilly. “Oh love”, said the mid­wife, “I don’t think you’re al­lowed to call her Judge – there are rules about giv­ing names that in­di­cate a rank­ing – like King, Gen­eral and Duke”. “Nooo!” I shrieked, “I’ve al­ready an­nounced it on Face­book!” For­tu­nately, the plead­ing let­ter I sent to the depart­ment of Births, Deaths and Mar­riages out­lin­ing the fam­ily his­tory of the name was ac­cepted. I also threw in that I’d prob­a­bly only use her mid­dle name when she was naughty and I needed to use her full name for ef­fect… I’m pretty sure if they knew how of­ten I now shout “Tilly Judge Mcpike!” they wouldn’t have let it through. 

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