The Struggle is Real

My name is what?

Today was fun. I got to help a friend of mine decide what her new middle name will be.

(Zelda. I think it should be Zelda, don’t you agree?)

She told the epic sad tale of being named after her mom, both first and middle names, with her family choosing to use her middle name to identify her instead of her first name so that they would not confuse mother with daughter. That had always been the plan.

Wasn’t a very good plan.


Friends know what to call her, but any official use of her name – from doctors’ offices to legal proceedings – need to be conducted using her legal first name, and she hates it. Not only does she NOT identify with it, but she actually always thinks they’re referring to her mom, not her, when she hears it. It’s disassociated.

She’s finally decided it’s time to pay up and have her name changed legally.

As parents we put a lot of time, thought and effort into naming our kids. Some of us want unique names, some prefer family names, others just find something they like and stick with it. And then we saddle ourselves with finding a middle name “to go with” that first name.

Honestly, the only reason any kid has to hear their middle name is when they’ve done something so bad that their mother has to emphasize the severity of the crap they’re in by using each and every name, slowly and distinctly pronouncing each and every syllable of every name, from first to last.

Picking a name pretty much boils down to 5 options. Each has benefits, each has drawbacks:

1. Traditional western names.

Jane. Lucy. Matthew. David. Bruce. These traditional names are easy to spell and easy to pronounce. Some are biblical, most are very straight forward.

Pro: Your kid will always be able to find a keychain, mug and other travel memorabilia at rest stops with their actual name on it.

Con: They’re plain. (Not sure if that actually counts as a con. Nothing wrong with simple, easy to spell names.) They’re common and your child may end up in a classroom with several kids that have the same name. No fun in figuring out who will go by Sue, Suzy, Susan, Susie Q and so on.

2. Made-up-cuz-I-like-the-sound names.

Ah-buh-seh-duh (spelled ABCD. 2Kewl. Mavolethstesia. Shastella. All are music to your ears, and nobody will have the same name as your child.

Pro: Definite points for creativity. Easy for your kid to Google him or herself. Chances are the Hotmail account is still available.

Con: Nobody will ever pronounce that name correctly and you – and then your child – will forever be spelling out the name and creating easy ways for people to understand how to pronounce it.

Take it from a girl named Elisa. It’s like Lisa, but with an Eh on the front. My last name – actually both my married and my maiden last names – always need to be spelled out. I have grown ever tired of spelling my full name!

3. Random word names.

Apple. Saffron. Ace. Bunny. Beckett. Any noun, any cool nickname, anything that is usually used as a last name, these are usually pretty straight forward to spell, but not so common to call a little human being.

Pro: Again, originality. Heck, picking a random word gives you the opportunity to find a dictionary definition to suit your every ideology for who you want your child to be. Or just allows you to name your kid after your favourite fruit. Either way.

Con: There ain’t nothing at the gift shop with that name on it, but there’s bound to be some sort of cool signage come along with these random words.

4. Exotic names.

Paloma. Leandro. Celestina. Carys. Baglen. They certainly do hold some mystique.

Pro: They’re not terribly difficult to spell and will probably be known to a fair number of people, even though they may not be as common in circulation.

Con: Unless it’s an Italian gift shop, your precious isn’t getting a mug with their name – I think you’re obligated to travel to the name’s motherland at least once. Your child will often be mistaken for having that background. (Another one that’s not truly a con, but is more than likely what is going to happen.)

5. Cool names

Talulah. Electra. Otis. JayZ. Axel.  Heroes, fictional characters, strong names and strong words.

Pro: They’re very fashionable and fun to say. They may even have a sense of irony about them.

Con: Your kid is going to be asked if their parents were hipsters. Guaranteed. And some of these cool names create some big expectations to live up to.

A runner-up noteworthy category is the Creative spellers. You choose to spell it Dgegniphur – (Jennifer) and of course the second g is silent. Like in gnome or gnu don’t you know! Chaynne is pronounced Shane – Seriously. How can you miss that? And who could confuse whether to finish with one D or two – heck, why not make it a triple D when you go for Dafyddd, instead of the more common David. Someone once told me they knew a La-Sha – pronounced La Dash A – but I’m not sure if they were messing with me. That seems a bit much. While I think apostrophes are cool in names: K’san, De’wayne, Ja’ney – if you can use them in last names, why not in first names  – most of the other characters on the keyboard should be limited.

After spelling my name my whole life, I opted to give my kids names that they wouldn’t ever need to spell out. However, my husband and couldn’t help ourselves from having a bit of fun, so our older son’s middle name is Danger.

Danger is his middle name.

Oh yes it is.