Friday, November 12, 2010

What's In a Name? Way too Much

When you are expecting a child, there are two things people immediately want to know: "Boy or girl?" and "Do you have any names picked out yet?" I generally don't mind this line of questioning, although I admit it seems a little creepy when complete strangers want to know your name list (not that that's kept me from being said creepy stranger).

Some people want to keep it a secret until the baby is born and I completely agree with their reasoning. But I also put so much weight on names that I like to test them out on the general public beforehand - hear how they sound in conversation, watch people's reactions, hear the stories and associations ("oh my god, I went to school with someone named that and they were awful!"), etc.

This is why - the day we found out it's a girl - I forced Robbie to spend hours talking about names. And the discussion has never really stopped since then. I loved thinking about girl names at the beginning of both previous pregnancies (aka before we knew they weren't applicable), and we had compiled a pretty long list of possibilities.

I thought this would make our decision easy for this baby, but when we reviewed our previous list, 99% of them got the chopping block right away. In the past four years they had either become too popular, been used by someone else we know for their children (or in one case a pet chicken), became associated with someone famous/infamous, or we just plain fell out of love.

We (mostly me) have pored over websites and books, considered character names in novels and movies, learned about famous suffragists and ancient goddesses, and even researched our genealogy for family names (Rasmina was rejected out of hand, Georgia was a contender but couldn't make the final cut, and I'm still trying to figure out a way to make the Swedish name Kjerstina a good middle name).

At one point, Robbie's mom came to visit and we went to see a rare (and much appreciated) late night movie while she held down the fort. At the end, we sat in silence and watched the names in the credits go by. At the same time we saw a name that peaked our interest:

"What do you think about the name Novella?"

"I was just about to ask you the same thing!"

"Then that's settled - we'll name her Novella."

It's not so much that we even loved the name, it was just the rare fact that we both agreed on it. Unfortunately, the novelty of Novella quickly wore off. That and the fact that we can't bring ourselves to name our daughter after the key grip in some independent film.

All this is to say our current list is short, often changing, and there aren't any that we are particularly emotionally attached to. As of this writing, it includes:

Estella (this is a compromise between my request for Stella - at which point Robbie does his best Marlon Brandon impression - and Robbie's request to name her after Estelle Getty. Yes, the actress on Golden Girls.)

As you can see by now, we need some help. We've set up impossible expectations: We want it to be feminine and meaningful, but not common or trendy. We are not huge fans of nicknames and try to avoid names that lend themselves to that, but we could be swayed by the right nickname. And most difficult of has to sound good with the last name Hartley-Beane. (Yes, I fully expect that our children will need therapy as a result of my compulsive feminist need to hyphenate last names. And yes, I know that it's going to complicate things when they get married, so spare me the lecture.)

If you're a person who likes a challenge and wants to help us in our quest, we will happily take suggestions at this point. Don't take it personally if your names don't survive our gauntlet - very few do - just know that we appreciate the offering.

And with that, the polls are officially open....

Friday, November 5, 2010

Your Parenting List

There are so, so many things I've been dying to write about the past month, but the crushing weight of homework pulls me back. While I slog through my final two weeks of the quarter, I thought I would at least make a small attempt to reconnect with the blogosphere.

As I've mentioned before, ever since I thought about having kids, I've been slowly compiling my Parenting List - things I want to teach my children before they move out of the house. Some of the things on the list are practical. For example:

1. Teach them how to cook
2. Teach them how to clean well (the boys are at distinct disadvantage since the Y chromosome seems to render men incapable of seeing dirt, and their low vision literally makes it hard for them to see dirt. However, I am determined to make this one happen one way or another!)
3. Teach them how to keep on a budget (as soon as I figure it out)
4. Teach them how to write gracious thank you notes.

Some things on the list are more complex and abstract:

1. Instill a strong sense of empathy
2. Help them develop a safe and just sexual ethic
3. Teach them media literacy

Some things are based on my bitchy pet peeves, hence my latest additions:

1. Never, ever visit someone with a newborn baby unless you plan on either a) bringing them food or b) performing chores/errands, etc.
2. Digital cameras have delete buttons and they are wonderful things. You don't have to upload your entire camera, including bad/blurry/repetitive pictures, onto your Facebook, blog, flickr (whatever media exists by the time my kids are old enough to upload pictures).
3. For my future daughter - Nobody looks good in Uggs and sweatpants. Nobody.

So if you have kids or plan on having kids, what kinds of things are on your list? I need an excuse to take five million breaks from my textbooks - so please share!