If you’re here – and I’m glad you’re here – you probably know that I avoid politics. That’s just not what this site is about.
Except … I am heartsick this weekend.
And I’m without words, too.
But there is a name, and that name echoes in my mind.
It’s an ordinary name. Strong and sensible. Now it carries on its shoulders the pain and frustration of generations. The slings and arrows. The outrage, the impossibility, the search for a way forward.
We imagine our children’s names will be remembered because they excel. Because they’re capable and brave and achieve great things.
George is the name of saints and kings. Of actors and artists. Three US presidents. Comics, soldiers, singers.
And now it’s a name – yet another name – that marks a particularly dark moment in our history.
When I’m feeling stuck and uncertain, I look for resources. And while this is a very different link than what I usually share, I found it incredibly helpful: How you can be an ally in the fight for racial justice.
So, how to go from talking about something so painful to a regular ol’ Sunday round-up about baby name news?
It all comes back to names.
If each and every person matters – and of course I believe that’s true with every fiber of my being – then so do their names, gifted to them by parents, carrying them through a lifetime. Our names matter, because our individual, precious, fragile human selves matter. Each and every one.
And so, elsewhere online:
I loved this list of names inspired by home, from Ava to Zeke. My favorite is Thatcher, but there are plenty of options.
I agree with Swistle’s conclusion in this question about family names, but I’m curious to hear from others: does Joiner seem wearable as a given name?
A deep dive into Dune names. Because the movie is coming, and we might be hearing more of Alia, Jamis, and other names from Frank Herbert’s universe.
Let’s end with some accessible controversy that I feel qualified to solve.
She changed her name from Qur’stylle to Chrystal, and her parents are furious. I understand it must be painful for a parent when a child chooses a different name. (After all, I visited this indignity and hurt on my mom.) But parents are asked to let go in hundreds of ways, mostly small. But sometimes massive. I’d put this somewhere in between, right? After all, she’s keeping the substance of the name. It’s sort of like Margaret changing her nickname from Maggie to Meg. Because, once you’re an adult? If you want to change your name from Qur’stylle to Ann – or Ann to Qur’stylle – that’s something you get to do.
Should you change your child’s name if a grandparent can’t pronounce it? In a perfect world, parents would figure this out in advance. But when it takes you by surprise? Changing your child’s name is not the answer. Finding a sweet nickname everyone can live with, one that works in your parent’s native language as well as English, feels like a practical solution that honors both needs.
That’s all for this week. As always, thank you for reading! Stay safe out there.
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Thank you, this was beautiful to read.
Another possible solution is to give the child two names, one for each language, and address the child by the name of the language being used. If the grandmother primarily speaks Chinese, for example, she addresses the child by her Chinese name and speaks to her in Chinese. I have known many families that do this, including one where the child was spoken to in two non-English languages at home and so addressed by two different names, and spoke English and went by a nickname at school. For example, at school she was “Amy”, but at home she was called “Amelia” by her Spanish speaking mom, and “Yong-Me” by her Korean speaking father. Both used her nickname alternating with one of her other names when friends visited. She responded to all of her names, and spoke three languages fluently. No one was confused by whom was meant, even her cousins knew when friends at birthday parties said “Amy” they were talking about “Amelia” or “Yong-Me” (depending on which side the cousins were from). For fairness, her younger brother had the Korean name first (Young-Bae), and at school went by an abbreviation /nickname of his Korean name (ie Bae /Bailey), while his Spanish name (Esteban) held the official middle spot and was what his mother /mother’s side called him.
Many people have nicknames or pet names that only certain people use or are only pulled out in certain situations. Hayley Sullivan might be “Hayley” at school, “Halls” to close friends, “Sullivan” on the sports field, and “Kiddo” to grandpa. Having a second name to use in another language is a similar idea.
Just a thought for those who are looking for names for children who will be navigating two or more cultures, and are having a hard time finding a name they like that “works” in multiple languages, you can always pick and use two names.