Monday, November 12, 2007

What's In a Name?

Earth's crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God; But only he who sees, takes off his shoes - The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.
-Elizabeth Barrett Browning

You see, there's a reason I love Elizabeth Barrett Browning. And it's not just because she has the most amazing name in the history of the world. I mean, until she got married, she went through life as Elizabeth Barrett, which is marvelous. I wish my last name was Barrett. Except I would have had to have chosen a different name for my son. Garrett Barrett wouldn't have worked for me. I'm incredibly picky about names. This is supposed to be a post about the brilliant quote above but I need to digress.

My Rules For Naming Children (no, I don't expect you to follow them. They are my rules)

1. A name should not be trendy. This is especially difficult because of the natural ebb and flow of naming. A good bet is to chose a name that has, for the past 10 years or so, steadily been in the top 150 names but is not, currently, in the top 20. (Example: Garrett: In the past 15 year it has ranged from 74-138) *Side note: I LOVE some trendy names. Aidan and Isabella, are among my favorites. However, I did not want my son to be Aidan B so I did not name him that.

2. One of the names should be from the Bible. This is so that, as parents, we honor our faith through the sacred act of bestowing our child's identity. (Example: Garrett John)

3. Especially when naming male children, it is strongly encouraged to honor a family member with one of the child's names. Suggestions: Passing on the father's name or middle name or honoring a family member from the mother's side since she (in most cases) did not keep her last name. (Example: Garrett John-after my father and brother who are both named Jon. Spelled like John in the Bible for bonus points)

4. The name must, absolutely, flow together as first, middle, last. This is why Garrett Barrett would not be acceptable. Other unacceptable names include David Davidson, anything that rhymes internally, and names that end with the same letter as the last name starts with (this is not a hard rule) example: Caleb Brown. If said quickly, the poor boy would sound as though he had been named Kayla.

5. Cutesy first names are inappropriate. Name your child something strong or beautiful. If they choose a cutesy name, so be it. Remember that he may grow up to be a professional. (Example: Joseph. If he chose Joey or Joe that is fine, he can always fall back on Joseph if needed.)

6. Do not give your child strange spellings for his/her name. Why, because people will always spell them wrong. *Sidenote: I think that some people have a problem with our chosen spelling of Garrett. While I certainly do not care when people spell his name incorrectly, we chose two r's and two t's for a reason. Garrett is the traditional spelling of a boy's name. Garett is another option but when pronounced, we clearly say, "G-air-rit," if one listens closely they can hear the two r's so one of them should not be eliminated. While you cannot hear the two t's, a garret (one t) is a small attic. We did not want our son to be named after Jo's hideout in the novel Little Women.

7. Be cautious with gender neutral names. If you have a boy and a girl, and name the girl Taylor, make sure you name the boy Matthew or something equally male. If you have Taylor and Jordan and one is male and the other is female, people will get confused. Likewise, if a name is gender neutral, but is MUCH more popular for one gender do not name your opposite gendered child that name. (Example: Lauren for a boy) You do not want teachers to think your child is trying to pull a fast on one them when they first call roll. This can get tricky given the above mentioned ebb and flow of name.

8. If possible, the meaning should be acceptable to you. This was very important during biblical times. We loved the name Garrett which means "spear ruler" or "to watch" and implies the strength of someone watching over or protecting his land. That, however, was not as important to us as his middle name. Named, as mentioned, for my father, brother, grandfather, great grandfather, etc, John means "God is gracious" and is what Elizabeth and Zechariah are told to name their son after so many years of praying for his conception. God graciously gave them their child. Likewise, he answered our prayers and gave us our own John.

Trust me, there are more. These are just the first few that come to mind.

Do all the mothers out there hate me? Have I just offended absolutely everyone? That was not my intention and I apologize if you are now seething behind your computer screen.

Back to the quote:
How often do I sit around a metaphorical bush, so obviously alive with God, and munch stupidly on my blackberries? How often do I let ordinary miracles rush by me without so much as glancing in their direction? A tiny step taken by my son, a whisper of rustling leaves in the trees, a sunset, are all acts of his perfect design. Sometimes I am too busy hungrily gazing at those blackberries to take off my shoes and accept that I am standing on holy ground. Are you?


  1. Re: Baby Names


  2. So , does this mean you hate Spencer T's name? It doesn't pass any of your rules. Except maybe the "not trendy", we made sure back then. It was the only name we could agree on, and when it was spoken out loud it was as if a light shone from above and a choir sang...seriously. It was meant for him. It also means 'Keeper of the money" , So that's good!
    He is a child wholly dedicated to God, with a gift for worship and praise. I think we named him just right.
    Oh, and T is unique, just like him, well, and his weirdo parents. It's not like we named him Apple! :)
    And I am not mad, and I'll support your own rules even if other mothers turn their backs on you.

  3. Definitely do NOT hate Spencer T's name. I actually love Spencer (the name and the child). And it does pass some of the name tests. We'll go backward.

    8. The meaning should be acceptable to you. And it is. Put a star by that one.

    7. I don't think it's gender neutral. I mean, if it is, I sure don't know too many girls named Spencer. Put a star by that one.

    6. It is not spelled oddly. That would be Spensir Tea.

    5. It is not cutesy. It is, in fact, very strong.

    4. It absolutely flows. Spencer T Gayden. Sounds great to me.

    3. I don't know that is honors a family member but that's ok. That one is totally up to the bestowers of the name. I like that Garrett's middle name honors my family and the next boy (if there is one) will have Troy's middle name.

    2. There are plenty of letter T's in the Bible. :-) Just kidding.

    1. It is not trendy.

    You scored a 6 out of 8. For fitting into my rules you totally win. Yay for you.

  4. I don't think we pass your rules either...Raegann Lianne, and Kamryn May. Both gender neutral, both different spellings. I am, however, very firm in the belief that the middle name should honor your family, and I favor very original or untrendy names. Most of my names that I chose were crossed off the list by Brandon. Don't get me wrong...I LOVE the names we chose, but if it were soley up to me, they'd have been much more uncommon!
    On the way we do have Evelyn Jane Elizabeth. I think this name might fit the rules a little better...

  5. In order to further reassure that you will not lose friends, I'll stop being a blog-lurker and provide my comment on the matter. :-) I still love you and your opinion. Here's mine!

    1. Trendy Names: I completely agree… with one exception (because well, I’m a lawyer and its my job to establish true meaning in the gray and … I want to use a “trendy” name) Exception: If you already had said child’s name picked out before it was trendy. Aidan/Aiden (we’ll address improper spelling momentarily) I would like to name my son Aiden. Now, I’ve wanted to name him that since I was like 12… and back when I was 12 it was in that 75-145 range of popularity, the second my uterus started to tick… yah it’s been the top name running… I say too bad to the quicker uteruses and say I will charge on with my name.. (you talk about your boobs, I talk about my uterus… we’re meant to be friends)

    2. Biblical Names: I like your reasoning, but for me not a mandate. In fact for Shon (a crucial player in the formation on said baby, so I suppose he gets a say…) he wants no biblical or familial names.

    3. Family Honor: I 1000% agree. Shon does not. My plan…wait until said child has been ripped from my uterus and I can proclaim him Aiden Joseph (biblical AND after my dad) … this is my plan, it might not work out for me… but I feels it’s the best time to bargain for it.

    4. Name Flow: If you lose friends over this… these are the friends that name their children Apple… and other strange things. It’s ok to say goodbye to these people.

    5. Cutesy: I agree…

    6. Spelling: I agree – which although Aidan is the traditional I don’t want him to be A-DAN I want him to be A-DEN… I like it better, then at least the kid can fight to be unique amid a sea of other A-DANs (yes, I am fully aware I still have yet to conceive a child, let alone a boy child, but dern it… I’m tryin!)

    7. Neutral = Never. They should not be used.

    8. I love it!

    Ok that’s my 2cents… ;-) Miss you, friend… so long as you don’t disown me after this blog! Love the blogs, keep them coming!!