You’re Probably Going to Hate the Name You Give Your Baby

by |
04/08/2010 1:59 PM |

Actress Shannyn Sossamon with her son, Audio Science Clayton.
  • Actress Shannyn Sossamon with her son, Audio Science Clayton.

Harrowing, harrowing stuff from the Times‘s Motherlode blog: parents everywhere are terrified of giving their child the wrong name—or of naming their child and realizing, too late, that the name they picked early on and that felt so right for nine months doesn’t suit the child at all, this poor kid will be go through life feeling like two different people, the person she thinks she is and the person her name connotes, like there’s forever something wrong with her, some great secret she can’t unlock obstructing her truer purpose.

(Other reasons why 3 percent of parents would change their child’s name if they could, according to the post, include giving your child the same name as a subsequently emergent celebrity or fictional parallel; a name that’s too trendy or too old-fashioned; naming your child after a relative you eventually grow to hate.)

It’s such incredible power, almost a power of creation, to dictate the name by which a person will be known to the world—indeed, to herself. (“And out of the ground the lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof,” like in that Andrew Bird song.)

Man, I’m really glad I’m not about to have a baby.

One Comment

  • Adam’s Task

    “And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field. . . ”
    – Gen. 2:20

    Thou, paw-paw-paw; thou, glurd; thou, spotted
    Glurd; thou, whitestap, lurching through
    The high-grown brush; thou, pliant-footed,
    Implex; thou, awagabu.

    Every burrower, each flier
    Came for the name he had to give:
    Gay, first work, ever to be prior,
    Not yet sunk to primitive.

    Thou, verdle; thou, McFleery’s pomma;
    Thou; thou; thou — three types of grawl;
    Thou, flisket, thou, kabasch; thou, comma-
    Eared mashawok; thou, all; thou, all.

    Were, in a fire of becoming,
    Laboring to be burned away,
    Then work, half-measuring, half-humming,
    Would be as serious as play.

    Thou, pambler; thou, rivarn; thou, greater
    Wherret, and thou, lesser one;
    Thou, sproal; thou, zant; thou, lily-eater.
    Naming’s over. Day is done.

    John Hollander 1971