Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What's in a name?: Baby Edition

Naming another human being is weird.

I have four cats. I have not named any of them.

When I was little my siblings and I had cats and named them, but that was different. All names were approved by The Parents (whether explicitly or not), so it wasn't something I did ON MY OWN. I had approval from An Authority Figure.

Naming Troy Emmitt, the fetus, was like naming a character in a story. Because it wasn't real -- naming my fetus was like naming my GPS (her name is Gloria, by the way. She's very friendly, except when you go the wrong way and she has to recalculate... that irks her a bit. But I digress...)

Unless you count those community-chosen cat names when I was, what, twelve?, I'd never named another living being.

So, suddenly, I'm in charge of naming a baby? An actual PERSON? A person with his own thoughts and opinions?

That's scary.

Freddy and I didn't tell anyone Troy Emmitt's name until he was born. Freddy and I discussed the name, of course, but since we named the baby after his grandfathers, we chose the origin/tribute rather than the name, really (we didn't get to choose what baby's grandfathers' names were). And we -- Freddy and I -- decided baby'd go by his initials, instead of his first (or middle) name. So, really, we picked his nickname for him.

Um... I hope he likes it...?

Because of my freakouts during the pregnancy (Troy Emmitt was a bit of a diva; throughout the pregnancy he kept having scary test results or sonograms, even though there was NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT. Ornery fetus), I asked Freddy to call Troy Emmitt by his fetus name, not his future baby name. So we didn't even use the name until after The Birth.

It was weird.

I called him "the baby" for the first few weeks. It took me time to get used to using his actual name.


What if we picked the wrong one?

Should we have gone with those names? What was he going to think of his Spanish middle name (my dad's name)? Should we have used the English equivalent of that name? Was he going to hate having to spell it out for people all the time? Do the names sound weird because one's in English and the other in Spanish? What about his first name -- we used Freddy's dad's first name, even though Freddy's dad went by his middle name. Should we have used that instead? Is he going to like going by his initials, or is he going to think that's too cheesy? HOW WAS I SUPPOSED TO KNOW THIS STUFF???

Kid was barely a few hours old and I'd already screwed up, scarred him for life.

Freddy and the grandmas used the baby's name so casually, so confidently. As if it were, like, his name; as if it was supposed to be his name, and there wasn't anything wrong with it.

So, after a while, I started using it, too.

He seems to like it. So far.

We'll see what he has to say about it, you know, once he starts talking and stuff...

And after all the hullabaloo about his real-life name, I had to figure out what to call the little booger here, on the blog. Freddy suggested Freddy, Jr., which I vetoed because WHAT ABOUT ME?? I thought about Criss, Jr., but that's not fair to Freddy, and Criss-Freddy Jr., is just silly.

I thought of Little Red, short for Little Red Cryin' Dude, also in honor of his carrot-top mop. Or Red Hulk, as my sister observed (srsly, you should see him change colors when he get mad), which is fitting considering how much radiation the guy got in utero thanks to all the extra sonograms he made us give him.

I came up with a few others, I think, but they were all equally not good.

So I'm going with MonkeyBoy. Which is what his daddy calls him. (It's what his daddy called the cat, but the cat's been demoted. Now the baby's MonkeyBoy. The cat's just plain ol' Gus now.)

(In case you're wondering, by the way, yes, we have called the baby by the cats' names. Both of us. More than once. More than one cat name. It's OK, though, I don't think the kid noticed. Or the cats.)


  1. The way I see it, if they truly hate their names they can decide to go by a different one when they're old enough to care. Since you're calling him by his initials, you've actually given him more options-- he can decide to go by firstname, shortened firstname, middle name, English version of middle name, or stick with his initials. The boy has options. ; )

    But I hear you on the pressure of picking. We settled on D's name early on, but *I* didn't feel sure about it till a few weeks after he was born. Q's name was even odder to pick, since it's "random" (not named after anyone). But, we like it. =)

  2. This is great, true...parent qualms, (--some parents escape them, to the potential detriment of kids with really hard to live with names, sticking to topic...). Love the description of Monkey boy and the cats' names.... great writing!:)

    don't think you have to worry, I'm with Marcy. Kids respect honoring/being honored with a significant family member's name. And you've given him lots of options-- look how creative you've been over time with just your first name!

  3. When I was younger I decided if I had ha daughter, her name would be Margaret. Because there are SO MANY nicknames/variations of it.

  4. Anonymous6:10 PM

    Studies show that children named after family members are more likely to be over-controlled and abused by their parents. Sad but true.


    Oh, my...

    Look, child abuse is a very serious issue. But this? I have to laugh.

    First, you're posting as Anonymous, which by itself demands that I take away 50 points from Slytherin. But on top of that, you give me a link to an Associated Content piece, more than likely written by you making this a desperate attempt to get more page views? Sorry. The only appropriate response to that is:


  6. Anonymous9:23 PM

    Not like I said you were abusive. Holy cow, sure didn't mean to upset you and I don't even know what Slytherin means.
    The piece I gave you was just one I came across on the internet just like I came across you through someone else's and has nothing to do with me. I post Anon. because I don't write on any topics but comment on those involving raising kids and came to yours through somene else's about nursing.
    Just passing along info that someone gave me when my husband wanted to name our son after his father. I can't find the original articles that were given to me but you sound paranoid and angry. I always took the name thing with a grain of salt but looking around at parents and now seeing your reaction, I believe there is some truth behind it. Your post was about nameing children after all.

  7. Anonymous9:57 AM

  8. Dear Anonymous:
    1) Find a dictionary.
    2) Look up the difference between "anger" and "ridicule." That should clear up a few things.
    3) Look up the difference between "correlation" and "causation." That should address the rest of the problem.


  9. Anonymous12:31 PM

    Dear Chriss:
    1)Find a counselor
    2)Make an appointment
    3)Talk to them about the correlation between anger and ridiculing strangers about studies you disagree with. This may or may not address your issues with control.
    Your post was about naming children after all and I commented to discuss the topic of naming children after relatives not to be ridiculed.
    I really hope Jr. doesn't spend his childhood walking on eggshells trying to say just the right thing to his mom. You have a beautiful baby. Best wishes to both of you.

  10. Let's review, shall we?

    My post: "We named our kid after family."

    Your comment: "Parents who name their kids after family are more likely to abuse their kids. Sad but true." (These are your words; I merely changed the sentence from passive to active voice.)

    Me: *laugh*


    Now, I have a confession to make. I actually clicked on your second link, the Google books one. And read a sidebar mentioning ONE study that "Juniors" -- exact same name as the father (which is different from "named after family") -- are more likely to be abused or go to jail. ONE study, and who knows how valid it was, what factors it chose to acknowledge and which to ignore.

    In that same sidebar, the author notes the likely reason for his correlation is that when a child carries the father's exact same name, there could be more pressure on the child to meet certain expectations. The chosen name is a symptom, not a cause: the high expectations are reflected in the chosen name, not "caused" by it.

    Interestingly enough, the sidebar is followed by two full pages of "Juniors" who became highly successful in their fields. Somehow, I doubt the author of the book was trying to discourage the practice.

    Are we done with this now?

    Next time you want to "discuss" a topic, you may want to, I dunno, DISCUSS things, not just drop a ridiculous ("sad but 'true'") statement with an even more ridiculous "source" and then walk away -- all the while posting as "Anonymous" (oh, the irony... you want to "discuss" names but refuse to give yours...)

    Now, if you don't mind, I'm going to go play with my (not-a-Jr.) son.

  11. Anonymous9:55 AM

    Yikes. Not everyone will always say things exactly the way you think they should Criss. I brought up studies I had heard about and said sad but true because I believe there is truth to these studies. You returned with ridicule, defensiveness and sarcasm. You don't agree with the studies, fine but I did not accuse you of being abusive. I've looked over some of your posts and you very often argue with and ridicule anyone who disagrees with you. This behavior is controlling but I don't expect you to agree after our above 'discussion'.
    My name is Babette and as far as I know I was named this because my father liked the name. I have a son who is named Harold after his grandfather.
    Yes, I'm done coming here. Next time you write a post you may want to reply to any readers with a bit more sensitivity.

  12. Anonymous8:02 AM

    I felt weird calling my son his name at first. I think it's normal cause it's a new little person...I always called him fetus or baby or bear cub.

    It is so hard to name a baby. I didn't decide his name until like the week he was due.