Kids: I don’t have ‘em, and I don’t want ‘em. However, my job, in addition to exposing me to every kind of horrible voicemail known to mankind, also exposes me to ten zillion names. And about half of them are beyond terrible. In fact, half of the names that I encounter out in the world are terrible. It’s tricky to get pissy about someone’s name, though, since they didn’t choose it. So, parents of the world, I’m getting pissy at you.
Now, I’m not saying we should have to approve baby names, like, say, Sweden or Germany, but perhaps parents should have to put a little critical thought into what moniker they saddle their kid with for the rest of its life. So go ahead and name your kid whatever the hell you want, but keep in mind you’re going to eventually be sending this being out into the world, and whatever you choose to call it (him/her, whatever, I use a neutral pronoun, don’t get all bent out of shape, I’ll swith to the improper but easier-to-read “they” if it makes you feel better) can be an albatross for the rest of its life. I’m going to try to avoid using too many actual proper nouns, lest a parent who has made that awful, awful decision take exception and get their feelings all hurt about it.
So if I were in charge of baby name approval (which I’m not, I know), these would be my helpful guidelines:
- If you choose a “non-traditional” spelling of a reasonably common name, you forfeit the right to get all pissy and offended when people assume that the normal spelling applies. Also, if you give your kid (or if you yourself have) a non-traditionally spelled name, and you don’t let people know that when they need to try to write out or find the name, you’re an asshole. You’re an extra special asshole if you call the doctor’s office and let the person look for “Kelly” in their files for ten minutes before letting them know, “Um, it’s spelled with a “Q.’ Duh.”
- Can we please put to rest the names of cities, streets, medieval professions, and what should have remained last names as first names? It’s played out and will end up just as dated as “Ethel” and “Mildred.”
- Don’t get “KrEE8iVe.” The old advice of trying to imagine your kid as a lawyer, president, and senior citizen still applies. Don’t encumber your kid with some unpronounceable, un-spellable nonsense that involves numbers, extra “silent” letters, or punctuation. No one will take them seriously ever, and it’ll be all your fault.
- Don’t make shit up. Pulling letters out of thin air and slapping them together in a random string does not a name make. It does, however, make you look stupid, and will frustrate anyone who ever has to deal with your kid’s name.
- Think about the kid. Think of them having to correct their teacher’s pronounciation every single year of school. Think of them having to spell their name, repeatedly, for every appointment they make for the rest of their life. Think of all of the mail they’re going to get with the wrong name, and all the aggravation they’ll need to deal with when getting a driver’s license or passport. Don’t make their life a living hell just because you want to show the world how awesome and hip and fun and creative you are. This is a human being, and whatever you put on that birth certificate is going to be with them for their whole life, or at least until they have enough money and are old enough to change it.