It happened again this week. Another celebrity couple gave their baby a name that the rest of us would pass by in the baby book with a flick of the hand and a roll of the eyes. After I heard that Beyoncé and Jay-Z named their new baby daughter, Blue Ivy, I reevaluated all the reasons why I gifted my children with their names.
Every mother knows how important a name can be to a child. My own mother loves to tell the story of how my sister, who apparently could not correctly pronounce the letter “V” until she was 18 years old, used to reply “Gicky!” to anyone who asked, “What is your little sister’s name?” When pressed to reveal my real name, my sister would become angry and pronounce her words carefully (as if the other person was hearing-impaired), “I said, my sister’s name is GICKY!”
Before my son was born, I soon realized that choosing a name for him was going to be more difficult than I thought. “How about Matthew?” my husband suggested one evening as he poured over baby names in the book I had borrowed from a friend.
I shook my head and said, “Matthew reminds me of the kid who used to live across the street who picked his nose every day of the week except Sundays when he apparently decided to give his finger a day of rest.”
My husband perused the names further. He asked, “How about Michael?”
I shook my head again. “I had an old boyfriend named Michael. Remember, he’s the one who wanted to backpack in Europeand live off our love?”
“What about Max?” I grimaced. “I once knew a dog named Max. He liked my leg. A lot.”
“Daniel?” he asked.
I held up my hand. “Stop right there. Daniel was the high school crush who broke my heart when he asked that peppy cheerleader with perfect Farrah Fawcett hair to prom instead of me.”
After six months of discussion and three lengthy bouts of hysterical crying (by my husband), we finally came to an agreement with the help of a priest-in-training and a peace pipe. Together, we settled on a name we felt was strong, manly, and that didn’t remind me of anything horrifying from my past. I only wish it wouldn’t have taken me fourteen years to learn to yell, “Achaius, get in here right now or else!” without sounding like I was in the midst of a hearty sneeze.
Live and learn, we always say in our house. Parents are so much smarter the second time around. I think we definitely got it right when we named our daughter, Angyalka. I only wish it didn’t sound like I need the Heimlich maneuver when I call her for dinner.
All of us know that a name is only part of who our children are and what they will become after they grow up and move out of our houses (but only after we yell into the basement, “You’re 25. Get a job!”). So, just remember, whether your child’s name is Blue Ivy, Apple, or Moon Unit, it is up to you, the parents, to teach them to be a good, loving person who will one day say to their own children (appropriately named Smurf, Sunday, and Sunshine), “Payback is a bitch.”
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”