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Name 'Napping Is So Wrong, But I Got Nothin'

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Help mom-to-be Teresa Strasser out with a name-me-down you no longer need!

woman having trouble picking a baby name

Teresa Strasser: I know from that stupidly catchy viral "Pregnant Women Are Smug" song that pregnant women don't usually share the names they've chosen for their babies. That may be a smug choice, sure, but I think I get it now. You let the name cat out of the bag, and everyone judges the cat, they swing the cat around by the tail, they project their own issues onto the cat, and now you want to put the whole incident in your emotional litter box and bury it so you can still like the cat as much as you used to.

And of course, there is the danger of getting name 'napped. My friends just had a baby boy and named it Laszlo, and I am madly in love with that name. It's Hungarian, as am I. Victor Laszlo is a character in the movie "Casablanca," and my surname is also featured in that film. Who doesn't remember the line, "Major Strasser has been shot. Round up the usual suspects"? Okay, that Strasser dude was a Nazi, but I still enjoy the classic movie name tie-in, and when you're looking for magical name signs, anything seems to scream, "This is the one."

Still, you don't 'nap a name.

So we had to let Laszlo go, like Bogey did. And now I have four more months to come up with something.

The first dozen people we told we were thinking of the name James were dazzled. "It's classy and simple," they said. "It's not like one of these newfangled Jayden, Aiden, Caden names," they added. So James shot to the top of the list, but if you tell enough people, someone is going to hate on your name, which is what happened when a former colleague told me that anyone named James would become Jim, and there was nothing I could do about it. Jim. Jims are nice people, they coach girls' soccer without inappropriately touching anyone, they do your taxes without massaging the numbers too much, they walk your dog when you have to leave town suddenly. I like Jims. I just don't want one.

The "Jim-hater" loved our only other name option so far: Shane.

After we got pregnant, we happened to go to the cell phone store and the guy who helped us had a shiny blue nametag with that moniker. And it seemed right with my husband's crazy-long, consonant-rich Polish name. Shane would ride into kindergarten like a Polish cowboy. And all Shanes are hot. But so are Gabes. And Nates. And most Erics.

Once you rule out any names of ex-boyfriends, or names you would be 'napping from your immediate circle, or names recently used by celebrity moms, or names you associate with high-school bullies or former evil bosses, the well runs a bit dry. Trust me, when it comes to girl names, the well of adorably androgynous designations bubbles over, but this boy thing is tough.

I've been thinking that most parents have a few names in the running before choosing the one. What happens to those perfectly good runner-up names? Can I have them? If you loved your second choice but didn't use it and feel it shouldn't go to waste, or if you thought of it only after you screwed your kid with an average name, help a mom-to-be out with a name-me-down you no longer need.

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42 comments so far | Post a comment now
Amanda May 16, 2009, 12:44 AM

We named our son Taytum - could be considered a girl’s name, but there’s an NFL player named Tatum Bell, and I loved the nickname factor (we only call him Tay)… Other options were: Ryder, Rylan, Lance, and Jaxon. Some of those names are already getting a little too popular for my taste….

I wouldn’t worry about the Jim issue. I know guys that go by James, and if you’re not into Jim, call him Jay! (I heard the podcast, and Adam should know that! Assistant Jay! Hello!)

Love ya T, and thanks for keeping us updated on the bun in the oven! I was devastated when the show ended and I didn’t have any more witty banter and crazy news for the iPod!


Heather May 16, 2009, 1:22 AM

I love your blog. Just perfectly put in terms of dealing with the ups and downs of pregnancy. We were debating my second son’s name well into the delivery room. But eventually we did agree on William. Only men over 50 ask if we are going to call him “Bill.” Ugh! no. My first son is Andrew and so far no nicknames for either of them. I correct people, as a mother should. So I’d vote for James. That was a runner up name for us, too. We have a little playgroup friend named James who does not go by Jim. As for other runner up names, I really liked Ari, Avery (though my husband refused-said he’d get beat up), Lasko (not sure of the origin) is another one but maybe too close to Laslo. I also like Luka. Just check out the initials (I actually know someone who’s daughter’s initials are a s s. Guess she won’t be monogramming anything). Good luck. I look forward to his arrival - and name.

Miranda May 16, 2009, 5:11 AM

I think we are going with Richard for this one, but some of my favorite names are James (my grandfather’s name), Elijah, Landon, William, Paris (after the Greek hero, not the hollywood starlet), Zachary, and Daniel. A bit odd, I know, but they are nice sounding names. The only problem I have is that my husband is Basque and has a Spanish last name, so you have to check how the first and last name sounds together.

Anonymous May 16, 2009, 11:25 AM

Good thing I had boys cause every girls name I liked was ultimately the name of some girl hubby had slept with in high school. Sigh….

Proud Mom May 16, 2009, 3:18 PM

Simon. It’s a great boys name. Not overly common, but not so UNcommon that’s it’s weird. It’s one of those names that will fit both a jock OR a computer geek, a CEO OR a farmer. It’s just one of “those” names.

Proud Mom May 16, 2009, 3:31 PM

Simon. It’s a great boys name. It’s not overly common, but not so UNcommon that it’s weird. The name Simon fits well for both a jock OR a computer geek, a CEO OR a farmer. It’s just one of “those” names.

Mom May 16, 2009, 3:34 PM

Cameron would be a nice choice. Even if he ends up going by Cam, it’s still really nice. Not too snobby sounding, not too lame.

Monica May 16, 2009, 3:46 PM

My husband wrote a list down of boy names. And we made the choice to pick what we want not what his mother or my mother or anyone else said they like or didn’t like. That was back when we didn’t know what we were having. Yes, boy names are difficult if you don’t want a Jr. I had already picked out a girls name since I had ever begin thinking of parenthood as a child. Sasha. But we ended up having a boy and came up with Xavier. I am not a fan of weird names but if it floats your boat and you aren’t worried about your child being teased then go for it. Of course you are going to get a lot of HUH? but the name will catch on.

DeeSmiley May 16, 2009, 4:17 PM

In 1992, I had a daughter. But my ultrasound had said I was having a boy so I only had a boy name picked out. I’m not having anymore kids, so you can have my boy name: ***Brandon Scott*** (yes this was during the 90210 craze!) I had to come up with a girl name pretty much out of the blue, and I decided on Amanda Rose. People usually like her middle name:)

Renee May 16, 2009, 6:33 PM

I work at a Daycare so I have come across hundreds of names…
No to Aiden or Kaden they are becoming way to popular.
Dalton and Declan Ryan are my favorites.

Lotti May 16, 2009, 7:25 PM

I love the names mentioned so far. I also HATE it when people jump on the “Aiden” bandwagon. I was just in the grocery store and this pregnant woman was saying how she really liked that name “Aiden” (as if she invented). There are WAAYYY too many Aidens, Jaydens, and Jaylens. My friend also puzzled me when she named her child “Amira”. I just don’t know about that one.

Lotti May 16, 2009, 7:27 PM

Oh yeah…Emma and Liam are getting worn out too.

jennifer May 16, 2009, 8:06 PM

I have a four year old Shane. He is the only Shane I know…the only Shane in his school! The name is both unique but normal. My son is super hot and cool! I hope you choose it.

Been There May 17, 2009, 2:30 PM

Give your child the name of a favorite author, character, or family member. That way, even if the name is common or unusual you can say there is a reason behind your choice of name. My husband has a very common name, but it was given to him in honor of his father’s best friend which makes him proud to have an otherwise unimpressive name.

Amber May 17, 2009, 6:54 PM

I like Riley. If I have a girl, Riley Rae.

Kam'sMom May 17, 2009, 9:13 PM

Naming a child is by far the hardest thing I have ever done. But, I am a baseball fan… so we named our son Kamden (normally Camden) Like Camden yards… but I didn’t like the C… I wanted to be difficult. So we changed it to a K. It is different but not too over the top. Other runner ups were Jacob and Anthony. Good Luck!

manya May 18, 2009, 9:40 AM

Hi T!

I went with Evan and Eric for my boys, but Kade or Kaden were my 2nd choices. I agree with Carolla on the James, you can’t pick a name and then control the other names it can turn out to be. Shane is a good solid name, different but not weird which is what I dealt with and blew.


Catherine May 18, 2009, 4:48 PM

My Sons are Blake, Ryan and… yes, Aiden. Had No clue Aiden was one of thoes names everyone was naming their kid until I had fallen in love with it. Someone will always say something about whatever name you choose. Just choose one you love and rolls off the tongue when you’re screaming it to not run into the street. Everyone will get used to the name and will never picture the kids with any other. Good luck! Congrats!

mrsdjohnston May 19, 2009, 2:16 PM

We named our son Grantham Cole. We call him Grant for short. Grantham was my great-grandmother’s maiden name. I love it, and noone says anything because they have never heard it.

Kris Kap May 22, 2009, 11:13 PM

I have 3 girls, but my boy names included Jon, Seamus (pron. Shaymus and husband absolutely HATED this… ;) Tim, Jacob (Jake), Matthew (Matt),Ben (Bennett or Benjamin)and Jackson. Good luck!

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