by Charlotte Hilton Andersen, REDBOOK
Imagine a playground ten years in the future: "Hi! Who are you?" "I'm Moroccan!" "No, I mean who are you?" "I'm Moroccan." It's the 21st century version of "Who's On First?"! Whether or not Mariah Carey intended to make her kids a punchline when she named them Monroe and Moroccan I don't know but I sure got a good giggle out of it. And then when Alicia Silverstone named her baby boy Bear Blu I fell on the floor laughing. Anyone who has read The Berenstein Bears B Book is welcome to join me down here.
Celebrities naming their kids something cuckoo is nothing new--Moon Unit Zappa anyone?--but these days the trend seems to be filtering down to the rest of us. And this is the point where I have to confess: My youngest child has a pretty unusual name. We started out with conventional Bible names, but by the time we got to kid number five's birth certificate, I was feeling sassy. (Or still hopped up on hospital drugs?)
Her name is Rainey. And yes, we are from Seattle. Actually her name is Lorraine but that seemed like such a big name for a little baby so she only goes by her nickname these days. When she's a world-famous heart surgeon she can go by the more staid version if she prefers but in the meantime we get a lot of strange looks at the zoo. My daughter's not the only one getting double takes at playgroup though. One mom surprised us all by naming her new daughter Phoenix Dawson. "Wow, she'll be spelling that one out for the rest of her days," the mom next to me whispered. But it wasn't over -- after a year they changed the baby's name on her birth certificate because they felt like it wasn't feminine enough. The new name? Dawson Phoenix. Glad we cleared that one right up. None of us laughed though. Especially not the mom who's son is named Brick.
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Babycenter.com's famous Top 100 Most Popular Names list for 2010 shows quite a few "different" names gaining in popularity. Reagan, Cadence, Kennedy and Harper are all trending up for girls while the boys have Cooper, Rider, Xavier, and Grayson. And let's not overlook the fact that when I was a kid "Charlotte" always meant me in any public place but these days I'm number 38 on the top 100. The irony of naming your child a unique name that becomes popular is that it kinda ruins the point of the name in the first place. We found this one out the hard way when we named our second son Jonas. It was different but not weird, unique but not unheard of - we loved it! Until two years after he was born when The Jonas Brothers skyrocketed into popularity and now I am forever explaining "he was born first!" as if Disney takes their cues from me. Sigh.Do you prefer unique or classic baby names?
- I love unique names! I want my child to stand out.
- I love classic baby names! Why mess with success?
- I think whatever parents want to names their kid is cool. In 50 years they'll all sound ridiculous anyhow.
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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.