The Name Game



When I was pregnant with my second child, we just couldn’t get around to thinking about names. With my first we were looking at books as soon as the 12-week scan gave us the all clear (far too superstitious to do anything before that), but with No. 2, it took us a while. A long while. Until two weeks after he was born in fact. I suspect it was because the name we loved (we really loved) and eventually named him was also the name of my eldest son’s friend. The little boy he had nanny shared with ever since he was six months old. We couldn’t use it. Could we? It wasn’t as if we had known the other family a long time, we hadn’t in fact, met until we started the nanny share. We never socialised outside of the nanny share (they’re perfectly nice, but for some reason, our paths don’t cross). And, it wasn’t as if it was a particularly unusual name. But still, it felt a little too close to home. Even though the nanny share was soon to end and our children’s lives would be a less intertwined than before. And then my mother said something. You have to think of the long term. This baby will have this name for all his life. It has to be the right one. And then we decided. It was the only name we really loved. It was his name.

Name etiquette is a difficult game. Are there names that really are off limits? Can you ‘reserve’ names for future offspring? A friend of a friend once emailed all their crowd telling them that the name ‘Lara’ was ‘hers’. She wasn’t even pregnant. Or with a partner, come to it. Children weren’t anywhere on the horizon, but this just shows you how emotive names can be. When I have my sensible hat on, I feel that you can’t lay claim to a name, unless it is a totally bonkers one you’ve made up or perhaps that of your late mother or father. I also don’t think you can say anything if someone uses the name you’ve always loved, as after all if you love it, surely it’s not so surprising that someone else loves it as well. Certainly you can be privately annoyed, rant about it to your husband, mentally want to punch them, but really, deep down, there’s nothing you can do – or say. However, much it galls. No-one owns a name after all. Although, ask me again when someone uses one of my favourite (more unusual) names and I will probably say something different….

What do you think? Can you lay claim to a name? Do you have any names that you love? What are your thoughts on name etiquette?

IMAGE: Baby Names 2013 by Eleanor Turner

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