Monday, 8 August 2011

The Name Game

For me, the most stressful part of having children, was naming them. Yep, it caused me more worry than pregnancy, birth, lack of sleep and empty bank accounts.

Everything else is short-lived, the pain of birth, the sleep-free first weeks. But a name lasts forever. And for a child born these days, it’s likely to be with them for 100 years (and thus feature in a telegram from the Queen, unless of course we’re a republic by then)

I envy anyone who has the confidence and self-assurance to just pick a name, stick with it and not worry about what it means and what ‘people will think’. (I think this state of mind is reserved solely for celebrities.)

When you’re naming a child, there’s a lot to consider. You can’t just give them the name you want, because this isn’t about you, it’s about shaping somebody else’s life. Or am I the only fool who feels the weight of this responsibility so heavily that it kept me awake at night?

So this is what you do. You find a name, picture your child with it, then hit it with the checklist. The ultimate naming test:
• First search the name on the Office for National Statistics’ database – they even do regional breakdowns, so a common name in the north, might be rare and unusual in the south.
• Apply the celeb test. Have any celebs got this name and do I like them? Have they used it for their kids, and, how do I feel about that?
• Next you think about all the people you’ve met with that name, are they fat/thin, weak/strong, happy/sad, funny/serious, successful/disastrous. I know everyone does this test.
• Is it easy for a child to spell? (three letters, should be a doddle) and can other people spell it (already having a problem with Huw here in the Shire)
• Can people pronounce it?
• Does it go with their surname? (who thought Neville Neville was a good idea??)
• Is it easy to make fun of? Will their initials spell anything rude or mean something else? (CIA, DIC…..)

I also found some great advice online…..which I was kind of following anyway, that you should apply the three golden rules of brand-naming to children’s names:
1. don’t tell people what you are thinking of calling your baby.
2. Choose a name for your target audience as opposed to yourself.
3. Wait till you meet the baby before you choose the name. In the corporate world it would be like naming a company before you know what personality you want to give it.

So I did all of this and thought I’d stick with my original favourite ‘Huw’ – love the name, strong, short, welsh. But even then, the system wasn’t fool proof.

Huw isn’t that easy to spell for a boy growing up in England and I’ve since found out, really hard for other kids to pronounce (Cue, Phew, You, Who). It can also cause major confusion in conversation…. ‘That’s Huw… who me? No Huw…who me?’ (Just ask my cousin Maree)

Anyway, I’ve got two kids, they’ve both got names *relief* but I’m STILL worrying. People call Huw ‘Phew’ and Eve ‘Evie’. Neither of them appears on the list of the names most likely to get into Oxbridge. Oh and every successful female in Hollywood I read about now seems to be called Jennifer – Aniston, Alba, Garner, Lopez. So cross famous actor out too. Damn.

So if you are pregnant and still can’t decide on your name….you might just want to read this article....
picture shows print of Eve's name, bought at one fine day