Let's talk about names

yet again. Sometime back I wrote about names in my family.  Being Italian-American that was quite a convoluted little history.

The topic of names came up yesterday, and again today, because Da Baby Princess has a new sister and my husband and I were going round and round about both of their names.

Baby Princess #1 was given the same name as a Greek island – why I do not know, or having asked, do not remember. I do know that they did tour the Greek islands on a vacation. Her middle name is a very pretty commonplace Anglo name after Da Papa’s grandmother.

Baby Princess #2 also has an unusual name, in this case she is named for/in honor of, a woman who has the same profession as Da Papa and I was told she is quite renowned in their mutual profession. Her middle name is also a commonplace Anglo name that runs in the family.

Okay – I understand naming a child after a family member but naming a child after someone you don’t know but admire? Well, okay, why the hell not, you have to call the kid something.

Or do you?

One of my favorite plays/movies is “A Thousand Clowns” wherein the one of the main characters is an 11 year old boy, living with his uncle, and they have a deal. The boy can use whatever names he wants until he is 13. At 13 he has to decide on a permanent name.

I like that idea a lot. Of course nowadays, a child might choose the name of their favorite pop star and live to regret it. The play was written back in the early 1960’s so I don’t think that was a real consideration and besides ‘Elvis’ there weren’t that many celebrities with odd names (Ok, ok – there was ‘Rock’ and ‘Tab’ but I don’t think too many boys related to them.)

Of course you could just wait until the baby starts to develop a personality and then choose a name that seems to fit. That’s another possibility. But I have other issues with names –

1. What’s the deal with middle names? Why? You have a first name that should be totally your own and a last name that links you to your relatives – why do you need a middle name?

2. Does being named after someone, either a family member or someone famous (for one reason or another) have an affect on the child’s self-esteem/self-identity? Does the child feel he has to live up to the reputation of the person he was named for, and if that reputation is less than stellar, does the child feel he is destined to be like that less-than-stellar person?

My husband was named after his father, a junior until his father died, and my husband does not think fondly of his father.  Today he said that he didn’t like his first name but he can’t think of another he would like any better.

Me, I love my name. I always have. Indeed, I like the Italian version even better and I was going to change it but everyone said I would just be called Grace anyway so why bother. The reason I wasn’t given the Italian version of my name is that my mother didn’t know how to spell it and no one would tell her! So instead of Graziella, I became Grace. There is no direct translation into English for Graziella, I was told it was more of a cutesy ‘baby name’ not a real name at all and a loose translation was ‘little Grace’. Don’t know, don’t care – I love my name.

When I was younger (much younger) when we girls were out on the town and picking up guys we would never give our real names, my problem was coming up with an alternative name – there was none that I thought suited me, even remotely. I always tried to come up with another Italian name but seriously, do I look like a Tina? Or even a Marie, which was my middle name and which I dumped a long time ago.

Anyway –

Baby Princess #1’s name, in its original language, means ‘untamed’.
Baby Princess #2’s name means ‘spear’ or ‘warrior.

Do you think Da Mama and Da Papa of Da Baby Princesses had a theme in mind?

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