Mothers, Don't Let Your Daughters Make Up Baby Names

This past weekend, I discovered a really funny blog. A woman named Jessie receives a newspeper insert every year that includes the birth announcements for all of Madison County, Idaho. She uses it to create a list of the absolute worst names in Idaho. She's done this for 7 years. She argues (pretty articulately, I must say) and provides evidence that shows that the wacky trend of making up weird names for babies was started in Utah and Idaho; there have been unfortunately named children in these states for decades. 

Before I noticed average everyday people giving their babies truly unfortunate names, I moved to Idaho and found myself surrounded by people with kinda weird names. Unique spellings and interesting pronunciations mostly. It wasn't something I had encountered in Eugene, Oregon. I mean, my graduating high school class was overrun with Michaels, Anthonys, and Christophers. 

However, in recent years, I've noticed more and more unique names from all corners. People making up names for their kids. I think we've all seen the picture of the pretty pregnant woman standing in front of a chalkboard featuring several very unpleasant names for her future baby... and the truly unfortunate one she decided to go with. In case you haven't, here it is. (You can also find this simply by Googling "white people awful baby names". It's the first result.) 

Let's appreciate for a moment that she didn't name the poor child McKarty. 

Let's appreciate for a moment that she didn't name the poor child McKarty. 

All of these names (and many popular ones) include the Column A and Column B technique: you take a bunch of random prefixes (La-, May-, Mc-, Brin-) in Column A and a random bunch of names or made up names in Column B (-kynn, -lynn, -ley/lee/lei, and more) and just smash then today. Brinley. Brinlynn. Maylynn. Maylei. It ensures that your child will have a truly unique name and no teacher will ever pronounce it correctly. 

As I wrote on Twitter, while reading the blog post I found, "I know you're not supposed to judge other women for what they name their babies, but I'm going to anyway." People will argue that people have the right to name their child whatever they damn well wish and that is certainly true. But a baby isn't an accessory; it isn't a pet; it isn't a toy. It grows up and has its own life. When little Lakynn or little Oakley or little Remington (not kidding) grows up, they have to put down "Lakynn TwilaLou Smith" on their resume, their college applications. If you think that a person's name doesn't affect their job prospects, then you're fooling yourself. 

It's natural to want to give teeny weeny widdle babies teeny weeny widdle names that are as cute and fat and special as them. But that's an impulse that needs to be shoved down. There are home videos of me as a baby with my parents and siblings calling me Michelle, which is 1) bizarre because my memory only recalls being called Shelly and 2) is a mouthful for a tiny baby. But while Michelle or Alexander or Jonathan are big names for little babies, they are also adult names that suggest adult people. 

In the future, we're going to have generations of people with far out names: the Brinleys and Oakleys and Remingtons and Diezzels and Lakynns and McKartys are going to grow up and apply for college. A generation of little girls are doomed to having people stare at their names in disbelief. "Are these just a bunch of letters smushed together? Did you name yourself?" Will the President of the United States ever be named RyKer or Londyn or Lexxus or Kenlee? Probably not. 

I have a penchant for weird, old names. I really like the way they sound and look, and I love when names have a history. However, I've been talked out of Angus and Ezra as boy names because, well, they're just too odd. (I will argue that a man named Angus is probably destined to be a badass. Just saying.) I find myself scaling back the "weirdness" on the names I pick for future baby because, well, I want it to have absolutely every opportunity. I don't want any decision I make to negatively impact its future. And that includes its name. 

I guess what I'm saying is: this trend seems to treat babies too much as fashion accessories that you can name however you want without consequences. But there are consequences to names. Really. Babies grow up into adults and they don't really get a second chance at having a name. A little girl named Remington will be named Remington for her entire life. Do you really want to do that to a child? Don't make up names for your baby. Stick to the classics.