In the year I was born, my name was the 9th most popular of all the baby names in America. According to the Social Security Popular Baby Names Index,it floated around there, never moving more than one place up or down, for a decade.
My husband popped out at a cringe-inducing number 2: as a Christopher, he was the 1980s’ version of today’s Aiden. A decade later, his name still topped out as the second-most popular baby name in America. From kindergarten on, both of us had to put a last initial after our names, something that seemed grossly unfair to a five-year-old, to differentiate us from the two other kids with the same name as us.
I swore I would never give my kid a name that had to come with an initial or some other distinguishing characteristic. I dated two guys named Chris, who I called exclusively by their last names because there were so many of them. I would never do this to my kids, I vowed. Never.
My husband and I are also Catholic. We wanted our kids to have Catholic names. Catholic names come in three flavors: Peter-Paul-and-Mary-normal; out-there-but-still-sort-of-hipster; and weird AF. We were not about to delve into the third category, which includes stuff like Pius and Severus — the stuff J.K. Rowling lifted to name Death Eaters — and all things medieval, like Aethelfred. So we were stuck with the middle ground of Catholic naming, with still has plenty of weird and wonderful stuff crammed into it that gives your kid a good unique name without someone mocking them about their Hogwarts letter.
Yes, people mispronounce my kids’ names. My middle son is the worst: people say Au-gust-een instead of the proper Au-gust-in, which grates on my soul. I suppose they’re channeling the city in Florida. It’s so bad that I’ve taken to spelling it without the terminal e anywhere I can get away with it: name tags, doctor’s offices. This makes life easier for everyone. He has an easy nickname though — August — and no one fucks that up, thank God though they sometimes ask where September and October are. Not funny, done before, STFU thanks.
My oldest son, Blaise, sometimes gets a mispronounce. “BLADE! That’s such a cool name!” one guy said. No dude, it’s Blaise, and you just told me way too much about yourself. Usually, we just have to spell his name. Blaise-with-an-S. B-L-A-I-S-E. If people are familiar with the saint or the mathematician, they nod their heads. If they aren’t, they think we made that shit up. I totally don’t give a fuck, because it only shows that they need to pick up a damn book once in a while.
The baby, Simon, in the family doesn’t get a mispronounced though. His nickname is Sunny, and everyone calls him that. As in, he was such a happy baby, he was like a ray of sunshine, so we called him Sunny. People think it’s Sonny, like Sonny Jim. I mean, that’s an understandable error.
Then they think we really out-of-the-womb named him that, so I have a Blaise, an August, and a Sunny. Notice the hot-weather theme going there. It makes for some weird ass conversations, but I swear we didn’t plan that part out.
I’m happy with my kids’ names. They’re different. I’ve never met another Blaise; I’ve only seen two other Augusts, and neither was an Augustine; Simon-called-Sunny is unique. If they went to school, they wouldn’t have to put their initials after their names. They also wouldn’t be so far into the realm of “out there” that people couldn’t pronounce their names (okay, for the most part), and they wouldn’t have to spell them out (mostly). And so what if they did? So what if they do? Their names are awesome. Their names are beautiful. They’re unique, they’re cool, they’re all very special to us as a family.
So you think my kids’ names are weird? I don’t give a fuck. I love them exactly the way they are. Your opinion is neither solicited nor taken under advisement, thanks. If I have another baby, they’ll have an equally weird ass name. I won’t let any of your hand-wringing stop me.