This week's letter to The Name Lady was from a woman whose husband suggested a baby name to honor a famous football coach. She liked the sound of the name, and the deal was done. A simple, happy story, with just one little catch: he didn't tell her about the football homage until after the baby was born.
That mom, fortunately, had a sense of humor about this little "oversight." She did like the name, after all. So what did it matter that he liked it for a different reason? In fact, she eventually agreed to continue the football theme with their next child's name. But her story raises the question: is full disclosure expected in the naming process?
Suppose that dad's football obsession were already a bone of contention between those two parents. Wouldn't that change the dynamics of the situation? Or suppose she had already made clear she didn't want a football name. In that case, his little sin of omission would be an out-and-out deception, and might even point to deeper issues in their relationship.
The football example may seem far from your experience, but some form of the disclosure question comes up for many parents -- especially when there's a name you love that your partner is still mulling over. It's a natural instinct to accentuate the positive....
• OK, Calvin comes from a word meaning "bald." Is it your obligation to point that out, when you don't think it matters much? Aren't Calvin Klein and Calvin & Hobbes more important?
• Yes, you loved the Disney movie Enchanted and he couldn't stand it. But is it your fault that he doesn't remember that the princess was named Giselle?
• Your sister-in-law thinks the name Alma sounds "fat." That's just one random opinion, and most of your friends love the name, so why muddy the waters?
• Umm, yeah, maybe you did date a guy named Alec in college, briefly. Very, very briefly. Nobody here even knows him, and you've dreamed of naming a son Alec since you saw The Black Stallion when you were nine, and you don't associate that college guy with the name at all. (What was his last name, even?)
Where do you draw the line? Did you ever pick and choose which info to share with your partner about a name? And did you run into any naming surprises after the baby was born?
The "Why Not?" section of the Baby Name Wizard book lists seldom-heard names with a fashionable sound and style. The names cover a lot of style ground, from sweet antiques to sleek modern names. Few, though, stray too far from the fashion mainstream. If I had listed a name like, say, Dragon under "Why Not?," plenty of you would have said, "Um, we know 'why not.' Because it's a flippin' dragon."
But for some parents, a flippin' dragon may be just the thing. What if you're looking for a name with a bold style that reaches out and grabs you, preferably with talons? What if your neighbors' kids all have popular names like Ryker, Maximus and Cash, and you're looking for something a little more unusual? Where do you look -- and how far can you go without crossing the line?
For adventurous parents, for video game creators, and for anyone looking for an uncommon name that stays just on the right side of the cool/crazy divide, here are 30 names that say "Why Not?" with a punch.
Kindergarteners. College freshman. Those two classes of entering students are at very different phases of their lives, yet their educational "generations" are only 13 years apart.
How much changes over the course of one cycle of schooling? To get a sense of cultural time passing, let's take a look at the names of this fall's two matriculating classes: the college students, born circa 1995, and the kindergarteners, vintage 2008.
• Entering college students are most likely to be named Jessica, Ashley, Michael, and Matthew. For the kindergarten students, fast-forward to Jacob and Emma.
• Brittany is a top-10 name in the college class. Just 13 years later, the Brittany rate had plummeted by 95% -- as did the rates of Brittney, Brandy and Brandi.
• Ava is a top-5 girl's name in kindergarten. In college it ranks #734, lower than Gladys.
• Some popular college names that are virtually unhead of among kindergarten students:
• Some popular kindergarten names that are virtually unheard of among college students:
• The biggest generational eye-opener: the "Age of Aidens" hasn't reached college yet. The total number of college freshmen named Aiden or Jayden is 379. The number of kindergarteners: 32,673. Use your imagination for Ayden, Kayden and beyond to get a sense of how different the two classes sound.
It isn't much of a stretch to say that the names of the kindergarteners and college students sound a full generation apart. That's a big leap for 13 years. If you look at names from a century earlier, comparing 1895 vs. 1908, the changes are much less dramatic. But fashion moves fast today, and name lifespans are shrinking. By the time this kindergarten class graduates, we'll be talking about a new set of popular names that we can't yet imagine.