One of Magpie's Musings about naming children made me think about one of the favorite recurring dinner table discussions around my house.
What if we had named you _____?
Throughout most of my first pregancy, my son was going to be Nicholas. Wouldn't be called Nick. Would most definately not be called Nicky. Nicholas.
But then family members got wind and we started hearing about "little Nick" and "how's baby Nicky doing?" Face to face with the potential inevitability (oxymoronic, just a little?) of losing control over the child's name.
So we dropped Nicholas.
In favor of a name with low risk nickname potential.
Although it does have a nickname and I call him the nickname even though he doesn't like it now that he's a teen and has asked me not to call him that anymore. I try. Really I do. But it keeps slipping out. Moms are allowed to use pet names in the privacy of her own home, aren't they? I mean, aren't there some privileges earned for all those months of pregnancy? All those late night feedings? Diaper changes?
When my son learned of his almost-name, he made the ugliest face. Which, of course, leads to the suggestion, "If your name WAS Nicholas, you would have turned your nose at your current name." To which he defiantly says, "No I wouldn't. I'd wish you had called me that instead."
One for Dickens, I suppose. Ghost of Names Past.
Each of our kids, while not named directly after anyone, has a name that has some family significance.
My son's given name is a derivative of Ira. My husband's grandfather was Ira. A horse trader, Ira. When we saw that reference, we knew the name had to be.
Ira was the stuff of myth making. The man who lived the simple life. Cooked on a wood stove. Ate eggs fried in lard everyday but kept a rock hard belly. Sat on his front porch, his gallery in the hill country, and shot deer for his dinner as he rocked in his rocking chair. Ira who did time in the penitentiary for making moonshine during the depression. Story goes he didn't drink it himself. Sold it to feed his ten kids. When Ira was in prison, the moonshine customers came by the homestead with parcels of food for the abandoned family.
My son's middle name is one of the surames on my mother's family tree. I don't know anyone in my family with that name but I like to think he's named after warm, loving ancestors rather than someone reviled. The risk of choosing a name, any name, off the family tree.
I like the tradition of giving the mother's maiden name as a middle name. We played around with giving almost-Nicholas my maiden name (my kept name, as I didn't change my name when I married) as a middle name. But then decided not to blow the whole wad with the first child. First born children come into this world with so much gravitas. Let's save a bit for the second born. This was the plan for three years.
But then we found out we were having twins. What to do? One of them carries the Mom's surname and not the other? Distinct potential of coming back to haunt me in the favoritism accusations.
Both get the same middle name? A little over-the-top, if not George Foreman-esque.
So here's what we did. BabyA's middle name is a derivative of my last name (think John instead of Johnson). BabyB has my middle name.
It seemed like a fair divide. But in the end, nobody has my maiden name. Ah well. There's always hope for a grandchild? (Are you reading this, sweet children?)
As for given names, BabyA's name is a feminized version of her grandfather's nickname. And also a wild woman of west Texas.
BabyB is named after the county where Ira the horsetrader lived. Sam came up with that one. He first heard the name from the niece of a friend. Liked it. And it happened to be the name of the county where Sam has such fond memories of his growing up years.
So then it was settled. All the kids first names came from Dad. All the kids middle names came from Mom. We didn't set out to achieve this end. But there you have it.
And back to the dinner table discussions. My kids love to ask, "what were some other names you came up with?"
There was Audra, Maggie, Molly, Holly, Hunter, Richard. None are family names. Just names one of us liked. These almost-names are always met with some combination of fascination and repugnance.
All in all, I'm glad we stuck with the names we've got. And so are they.
How about you, reader? How did you come up with your kids names? What are your "we-almost-named-you" stories? Do you ever look back and wish you had kept a discarded name? Wonder if this child's life would have been different?
Update: My son read this post and later asked me, Mom! Why didn't you name me Ira?!