What to call the new baby?
I cannot think of any decision more crucial than the name the proud parents choose for their offspring.
I am not being derisive. I am dead serious, and I am speaking from experience. I’ve had family members draw lines in the sand when two couples choose the same family name. Not a pleasant sight for the rest of the family and a terrific way to launch a grand family brawl that could last for generations.
The problem — or advantage — to a name is you carry it — or it carries you — forever and ever.
Pity my poor college classmate, Rusty. We bonded at the University of Nebraska because we both were from tiny farm communities, we both were majoring in journalism, and we both had red hair.
Lots of “boths” there. We really, really bonded.
And then, one auspicious day, I peered over Rusty’s shoulder as he wrote a check. For those of you who have never not known a debit card, a check is a piece of paper, an instrument in the words of the bank, written, dated and signed that directs said bank to pay a specific sum of money to the bearer. Checks always have the name of the writer in the upper left corner.
Rusty had a secret. That check revealed his secret. His REAL name was Wilmer. To make matters worse, Rusty was a Wilmer, Jr.
Rusty was devastated when he saw me see his REAL name. Who knows what I could have demanded, but my mother raised me better than that — and he was my only friend on a campus of 25,000 strangers? So, I never revealed Rusty’s shocking secret.
I did learn something I have never forgotten. First names help shape the rest of your life. That is why parents are so meticulous and thorough when choosing a name for their little tyke. Honor a relative? Give a boy a boy name or a girl a girl name? Pick a gender-neutral name? Pick something popular — or weird? So much for new parents to think about.
The Social Security Administration is here to help. Every year, they release last year’s most popular boy names and girl names. Those may be the names that parents want to stay away from.
Most popular girl names in order: Olivia, Emma, Ava, Sophia and Isabella. Top five boy names in order: Liam, Noah, Oliver, William and Elijah.
Social Security also lists the “fastest risers,” the names that zoomed up the popularity chart, maybe the names parents will want. And these names from Social Security reflect America’s diversity. Fastest-rising girl names: Amoura, Theodora, Navy, Emani and Yaritza. Fastest-rising boy names: Sekani, Ermias, Amias, Kyro and Ambrose.
I am just repeating what Social Security told me. I grew up around lots of Toms and Pats and Jeffs and Mikes. We had a Morgan and a Kim, too, but they were both boys.
My exhaustive research on “naming the baby” brought me to Parent Magazine, which breathlessly introduced me to an article that says the name parents choose says more about them than it does about their baby. Here is a partial lowdown. These are real names selected by parents for their real babies.
A pop culture name — Lennon, says you are looking for confidence. An unusual name — Apple, says you crave the spotlight. An old-fashioned name — Homer, says you are conservative. A creatively spelled name — Ryder, says you dare to be different. A unisex name — Harlow, you are focusing on success. Name your baby after a destination — Brooklyn, you are adventurous.
Those deductions came from Jennifer Moss who knows a thing or two about baby names. She is author of “One-in-a-Million Baby Name Book” and founder of BabyNames.com.
Oh, one more point before I drive this topic into the ground; when I scrutinized the Social Security list of the 50 most popular boy names, there was my name, Thomas, the 47th most popular name in 2019, squeezed in between Andrew and Joshua. Made me feel better since I cannot remember the last time I met a Thomas under the age of 50.