I’m 24 weeks along with Baby Brother, or Boombox, as we’ve been calling him, and we are pretty far from deciding on a name. I’m half-afraid we’ll accidentally name him Boombox after all. Just kidding, grandparents! Sort of!
Isn’t it weird how hard it is to name a baby? It feels like you’re deciding the whole trajectory of the kid’s life, somehow, even though that’s a little ridiculous. I mean, my name is Amy, just like every other girl born in the 70s who isn’t called Jennifer. And I like to think I turned out to be my own person. So why all the effort to find a baby name that’s unique? Sure, having grown up as an Amy, I was always jealous of kids with unusual or extremely fancy names. They seemed automatically cooler than everyone else, without even trying. No fair. And no wonder I communed with Anne Shirley, who insisted on at least adding the “e” at the end of her name to distinguish her in some small way. Then again, you don’t want to go too out-there. I live in a neighborhood full of the kind of wackadoodle kid names that I sort of love and sort of worry would make me feel way too silly. You have to practice. “Now Adam,” I’ve said to my husband a million times, “Can you really imagine calling out ‘Doctor! Doctor!’ on the playground?” (“Yes,” he always answers. “It would be awesome. “)
It’s even harder once you have a kid, because then you know so many other kids. I was surprised to come across one of our original baby name lists and see the name August on it. August! August is this perfectly adorable 2-year-old we know who is very gifted at making animal sounds. But now I can’t imagine having my own August – August is that kid! I also used to love the name Gus. There is a terrible Gus who lives in our neighborhood. I don’t actually know them (aren’t I nice?) but just hearing his mother cry, “Gus! Gussie, no! I mean it this time!” has turned me off of the name forever.
You also realize, once you’re a regular on the playground circuit, how unoriginal you actually are. When we named our daughter Harper, my grandmother, for example, said, “Hm. I wonder how she’ll like that name.” People thought it was so different! Even a little surprising! And of course, we’ve met 3 or 4 other little Harpers around town, and now I hear that the name is one of the “hottest” baby names of 2010. When did this happen? We’d never met a Harper before she was born. I assume these are all copycats and that she started the trend. Back off, biters!
You know what the real nightmare is? An irritating pop culture phenomenon with your kid’s name. This occurred to me when I was pregnant with Harper and loved this odd little name Maile, pronounced Miley. I could never hang with how hard it was to spell, though. And then I heard tell of a certain young lady called Miley Cyrus. Shudder! Dodged a bullet there! But who knows? What if there is a new Miley Cyrus next year named Harper Somebody? They wouldn’t dare. I don’t know who that “they” is, but they just wouldn’t.
So anyway, wish Baby Boombox luck. Today I asked Harper what we should name him and she said, “Wait.” Wacky Park Slope creativity or sage advice? Hm.