I Have Regrets About My Son’s Name

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I don’t hate my son’s name, but you know what? I don’t love it either.

Not his first name, that’s totally fine. His first name is Tristan, which 11 years ago seemed like kind of a cool unusual name that would stand out, but now has become incredibly common. (Gotta admit, it feels good to be a trend setter.)

It’s his middle that gives me pause. Why you ask?

Well, his middle name is Flip.

Now, I know, there are a few of you reading this rolling your eyes, thinking of much worse names that you’ve heard over the years. And sure, I’ve heard worse names. I went to high school with a kid named Larry Moe. I kid you not. Every school year each new teacher would call roll, and almost always, without a doubt, ask him where Curly was. He’d frown, and then there’d be a fire in his eyes, and we were all 60% sure we’d be reading in the news the next day about some kid lighting his parents house on fire in retaliation for his crappy name.

But Flip? Well… it’s not that bad. But the problem is, when we named him, I was much younger — only 24. I’m 36 now. Back then, I thought it was a cool, original name that would cause him to be so freaking popular and rad. I remember wishing my name were Flip.

I wanted it to be his first name! I fought with my wife about it — and my mother, my sister, and really anyone else who had two cents to give on the subject too.

When you get married, you have to pick your battles? Well… I picked this one. I dug in my heels, and eventually, it happened. We settled on it being his middle name. I felt confident that he’d go by his middle name because it was so freaking cool. Nobody would know that it wasn’t his first name.

But now — 11, almost 12 years later — he doesn’t. In fact, he hides it.

Don’t get me wrong, I think a lot of people hide their middle name. My middle name is Ronald. I was named after my grandmother, Ronelda. She actually raised me from age 14 to 18, and it does have some significance. But at the same time, whenever someone found out about my middle name, they associated me with Ronald McDonald, and as a teen, the last thing I wanted to be associated with was some crappy clown who pitched burgers and fries.

I don’t think my son can make that association, but each time we meet with a new teacher, each time we visit the doctor or file something official, the person reading the document pauses, frowns a little, and says, “Flip?” Then they give me that cross eyed, twisted lipped look, people often give to parents who don’t use proper car seats. I then look at my son, and he has a similar look that Larry Moe had back in high school, and suddenly I get nervous that my son is going to burn my house down because of his name.

No, wait, I exaggerated that last bit. Let’s take a step back. What actually happens is he looks at the ground, sheepishly, like he finds his middle name embarrassing.

And that’s the problem with naming your child. That right there. We’ve all heard “What’s in a name?” Well, if your name is Juliet, it means you smell like a rose, or something. But in most cases, a name can be a big deal, and when I named my son, I feel like it was a little more about my own interest in giving my son a wacky fun name that would stand out, without considering the fact that he might not want to stand out because of his name. Perhaps he wanted to stand out for his own reasons and on his own terms.

I have to assume that I’m not the only person who regrets their child’s name. I once meet a kid at the park who was named Pantera. I scratched my head that day. I scratched it real hard. But sometimes it must be more complicated than that. Perhaps you named your child after someone who went on to hurt you, or wrong you, or walk out on you, and suddenly you are reminded of that person each time you say it. Not that any of that is your child’s fault, but at the same time, it’s still there, weighty and uncomfortable.

In hindsight, I wish I’d given my son something a little more ordinary, that didn’t stand out quite so much. Or perhaps not given him a middle name. And sure, I could change it, but I doubt I will go that far. Maybe he will learn to love it. Maybe he will change it on his own someday. I don’t know.

For the most part, he doesn’t really notice his middle name and I’m grateful for that. But when it does come up, I do regret it.

Just don’t tell my wife that.

Naming your baby is scary. Visit the Scary Mommy’s baby name section here for help!