Week 23: The name game

By Published On: December 18th, 2015

One of the most important tasks of becoming a new […]

One of the most important tasks of becoming a new parent can also be the most daunting. Choosing a name for your child is such a vital job, and it is one that varies greatly from couple to couple. Some people find out the gender of their baby, but keep their names secret. Other people find out the gender, pick a name, and start calling their baby by his or her name while still in utero. Still others don’t find out the gender (like us!) but let people know what name they have lined up for a boy or a girl.
IMG_8813I have always loved names, I think, in part, because I am a writer. One of my favorite parts of beginning a new story is selecting my protagonist’s name. It’s super important for a character to have the right name. A sweet, gentle name might not work for a super tough crime fighter. I always take time to make sure I select just the right name for each character. And of course, as important as it is for a character to have the right name, it is 1000 times more important for an actual, real-live child to have the right name.
I always thought it would be a bit difficult to come up with names for our children due to the fact that I’m a teacher. As many of you teachers out there know, certain names evoke certain responses and memories, both positive and negative. After 12 years of teaching, I knew there were some names I would most certainly NEVER be able to give my children (however, these shall remain nameless, ha ha). But there were also names of students who I absolutely loved working with that made me think, maybe this could be a potential child’s name.
That’s how I felt about the name Jackson (but then I had a nephew who was named Jackson and couldn’t possibly be anything other than a Jackson). After three years in a row with a fabulous and wonderful Olivia in my 5th grade class, it was extremely easy to decide on our girl’s name for Baby Phillips No. 1: Olivia (because she was bound to be beautiful, creative, intelligent and a leader—like all three of my other Olivias) Nicole (after my cousin who passed away when we were 15). Easy as pie, really.
Our boy’s name was slightly more difficult, but during happy hour at a local Mexican restaurant, my husband said, “What about Nathan?” I thought about it, then nodded. I liked it! If we had a boy, he would be named Nathan David (middle name after his father). This time around our boy’s name has stayed the same. We’ve had a few others in the running, but Nathan David is still at the top of our list. (Of course, every time I bring up another name, my husband’s response is, “What’s wrong with Nathan?” So I think we’re pretty much settled.)
Our girl’s name was the difficult one this time. It has to be something that goes well with Olivia. It needs to have more than one syllable (that’s my requirement, not my husband’s). And it needs to be able to be shortened to a cute nickname. We think we have it figured out. We both like the name Amelia, even though my cousin’s husband says he’d never get on a plane with someone named Amelia. It sounds great with Olivia, and I decided we can shorten it by getting rid of a few letters. That gets us to Mia, a name I absolutely love (and another wonderful student I taught a number of years ago). So there you have it: Amelia and Nathan—our top two names.
Does this mean we won’t keep thinking? Of course not. It’s always good to have back-up names. One day, maybe a new name will strike us that we haven’t thought about yet, and it will knock Amelia or Nathan out of the running. But until then, we have our names. And my husband is certain we won’t need to use Amelia anyway. He’s confident it’s a boy. We shall see.