When you are pregnant and looking down at that little bump of wonder, you might find yourself daydreaming about what kind of person the newest member of your family will be.
Part of that will no doubt include what to name them.
Perhaps, like I did, you have fashioned yourself into a bit of a name expert through reading baby name books and online forums. You read birth announcements like some people would read tea leaves, deciphering all sorts of unfounded conclusions about the baby’s personality from their parent’s choice in moniker.
Naming a child is a beautiful but tough task. Will your choice suit them? Will it date? Is it a name that is flexible enough to suit them as a baby and adult? Will it pigeon hole them, forever excluding them from more staid professions? Cause let’s face it, how many barristers are out there called Moon Unit or Satchel.
The decision is made even harder if your tastes stray from the Top 50 baby name lists. Sure a William, Jack, Emily or Chloe is safe but what if you want to stick up for names on the extinction or not-yet-registered lists? Well, good for you! But it is worth being mindful that the more unique you get, the higher the risk getting a bout of naming remorse down the track.
Having gone down the quirky name path myself, here are my top 5 tips for choosing a quirky name:
1. Don’t hitch your wagon to the celebrity name train –
The number one stumbling block for parents wanting to choose a quirky name is looking between the pages of their nearest gossip magazine. Yet associating your child through name to a celebrity is a gamble, particularly if said celebrity ends up an infamous mess or – if you’re copying their baby name choices –their children grow up to be mega brats.
Besides all that, having an Apple or Apollo may fly in La La Land but how will you feel calling such names out at your local supermarket? If the answer is awkward, then move on.
2. Accept that you will be judged –
You may find your parents group sprinkled with Bodhis, Raffertys and Tajs but how will Great Aunty Joan react to your baby’s new name? Will she high-five your unique choice or mispronounce the name in an act of passive-aggressive disdain?
Perhaps you don’t care what others think, which is not entirely a bad thing given you may have to learn to get used to the occasional sideway glance or bemused look from more conservative quarters.
3. Accept that you will get territorial –
Once your baby is born and the name unveiled, you might be pleasantly surprised by the reaction you get from strangers and friends alike to your name choice. You may even become smug for having successfully balanced between quirky and acceptable. If you get to this point, then you’ll soon find yourself getting a little territorial over the name. I mean, it’s such an awesome name – people are bound to copy it! And then soon there will be an Edie or Baxter on every childcare roll and everyone will think you’re just as unoriginal as the rest when really you were the trailblazer, dammit.
Ok, maybe that’s just me needing to relax. People may like the name but it takes a lot to go from like to actually signing a birth certificate.
4. Think global –
If you want to go unique, check out your ancestor’s country of origin or your favourite holiday destination for a little inspiration.
Look at Top 50 lists from those countries and feel free to look back at historical lists too. If you do go down this path, be sure to find someone who speaks the lingo and ask them how to pronounce the name. Many European languages, for example, pronounce J as a Y so Joaquim becomes something completely different.
5. Walk a mile in your child’s shoes –
Finally, and perhaps most controversially, taking a traditional name and spelling it differently does not equate to quirky. It equates to a lifetime of that child having to spell their name out every time they order a coffee or sign into a hotel. And to what end? A name that, when pronounced, sounds no different to the traditional variant?
I can’t tell you how bored to tears I am of saying “Meagan….M-e-A….A…..g-a-n” my whole life. And that spelling isn’t even that far out of the box compared. I can’t imagine how a Byrtnee, Thyler or a Coopa feels about their lot.
So there you go. Happy naming and, whatever you choose, I hope you look back and feel satisfied with your choices.