What’s in a name?

What’s in a name?
Jyotsna had some mild contractions — every 20 minutes or so – on Saturday morning. It happened for more than an hour, which put us at BabyCon level 3 (if we were Homeland Security it might have been orange or pink, who knows). She was scheduled to work that morning so she called her colleague who generously offered to fill in, and we called Jyotsna’s mom to get her on deck so she can be ready to come down. My parents were already in town for my nephew’s birthday, so that seemed convenient.
However, after a few hours, the contractions lessened in intensity and interval. After that, we stepped back down into BabyCon Level 4, and went back to our normally scheduled plans. It was disappointing. For Jyotsna it was more so, since is *so* ready to be done she’s asking for the fork to be stuck in her.
At least the one thing it gives us is more time to consider a name. It’s always been hard for us to agree on names. It seems like a particularly important decision that a parent makes, this choosing of a name. Although some studies are showing that much of what we consider parenting doesn’t particularly change a child’s nature (a dubious claim in my eyes), what you name the child will definitely saddle him or her with ammunition for the therapy couch. You look at some of the names some of the so called “celebrities” have chosen, and I can already see where their lives are heading. Alicia Silverstone just picked “Bear Blu” for her child, and Mariah Carey has chosen “Moroccan” for one of her twins. Slate,com in fact just had a piece about the tremendous popularity of the name “Khloe”, after Khloe Kardashian. (Seriously. People really name their kids after reality show folks?) At least Gwennyth Paltrow had the presence of mind to name her kid after a nice healthy fruit.
Anyway, I think choosing a name is especially difficult for children of immigrant families. Both Jyotsna and myself have had our issues with our names, or at least the pronunciation of them. For most of my childhood – up until about college or so – my peers pronounced my name closer to “Mah-lick” (as in “Ma, lick” your ice cream, or for you film buffs, like the surname of the director Terrence). Of course, that also rhymed with such choice words such as “Alcoholic” and (my favorite) “Bucolic”. I’m pretty sure that particular pronunciation started with Ms. Baker, my 1st grade teacher. I never challenged it, and eventually it just became accepted. But I was always aware that my family and family friends said it one way, and my peers said it another. Then in my teenagehood I had a friend nickname me “Mo”, and the moniker stuck. So for the next decade or so (even now), most people call me “Mo”. Then a few years ago, in an existential fit of some sort, I started to use my full name (pronounced correctly) a little more extensively. But to this day I’ll answer to any form of my name, and if I know someone from my past and they know me a certain way, it’s not important enough for me to ask them to change.
Jyotsna has similar issues with her name. For the longest time growing up, she hated her name and went by “Jenny”. She signed her name Jenny, her family called her Jenny, and it was unthinkable that she would be anything else. After she got older, however, she started using Jyotsna more and more. Of course, there are obvious nicknames such as “Jo” that she goes by (my favorite is “Yo-tashna”), but she’s now known professional and by anybody she meets as Jyotsna. But her family still calls her Jenny, and even though I never knew her as that, will call her that if I’m talking about her to her family.
So I think we’re both a little more sensitive about the possibility of mispronunciation of any name we pick. The choice is made doubly difficult because both of our extended families are somewhat large, so even if we like a name it’s better than even odds that that name is taken. (If we extended that rule to family friends, we’d never pick a name). Boy’s names are seemingly even more difficult to agree on for one reason or another.
I *think* we have a couple of names picked out, after much wrestling and wrangling. I also think that whatever name we pick, there’s considerably more multi-cultural experience and acceptance out there than there was when we were growing up. I mean, my kid is going to be going to school with a “Khloe Moroccan Bear Blu Jordan-Gordon-Smith”. Hell, their name is going to see normal in comparison.

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