Wednesday, 13 July 2011

What's in a name?

For the last 10 years I have taught parenting skills (shut up, my kids are grand) I have supported nigh on 1500 families who have had a new baby and on Tuesday 12Th I held my last group. The Red Cross where we have rented premises for the last decade are changing their family support centre into something else and is dismantling it's amazing multi sensory room so I have nowhere to go. As SureStart have expanded there are so many more activities on offer to mums and babies than there were 10 years ago and I have found that less mums stay at home or they go back to work much quicker. When I started I would have women with me for a whole year until their baby was 1 and now that rarely happens.

I have learned not to raise an eyebrow when people let me know their babies name, I just enquire how I spell it. When I did my midwifery secondment as part of my nurse training a million years ago the rule of thumb was the worse the social circumstances the more outlandish the name, I helped Mercedes McDonald into the world, named entirely because it was the only way her dad could have one. The very middle class mummies had lots of Lucys, Charlottes and Emilys. Now it seems that having a name that people hear and understand that it is actually a name is slightly boring, I blame celebrities, I will not bang on about Buddy Bear Oliver again and WTF is Harper Seven or should that be Harper 7?

My real name is Wendy-Jane, yep I'm fully hyphenated up (I know you're shocked, you thought I'd been christened auntiegwen, it's right up there on your list of disappointments with Santa and the tooth fairy) I'm not keen on it, I think it's a bit of a Tracey, Mandy, Sharon type name, you read it and know I'm in my 40's. My friends at school were Karens and Lindas and Susans. It didn't stand out at school but there were always a few Wendys, there were a few hyphenated names too, I know quite a few Anne-Maries and Carol-Anns. My mum had wanted to call me Suzanne which I would have preferred but my dad said it's be shortened to Suzie which he didn't like, I am extemely glad they didn't go down the route of both grannies names or else I'd have been Margaret-Mary, and I went to school with one of them too. I spent my younger years listening to "hey Wendy, do you live in a house?" and other such witticisms now my holiday home is called The Wendy House and I like that, it must appeal to the inner retro thang I've got going on.

I married a Gordon, which was unfortunate. Ahem, no, really I was talking about the name, it was a difficult name for him, not only did you have to learn how to do the Gay Gordon dance in school but in 1978 when he was 12, Jilted John was blasting out his one hit wonder "Gordon is a moron" and now the Gordons who spring to mind are Messrs Brown and Ramsey who may or may not set your gusset aflame. Not an easy name to pull off.

It's tricky to pick a name isn't it? There may be names you like but are associated with people you don't or you may wish to remember a loved one but just find the name doesn't go with your surname. I wanted to call Eldest Beautiful Daughter Ailidh which is pronounced Aylay but was vetoed, he liked Fiona but was vetoed and we settled on Laura Elizabeth, she's not overly keen on her name.

With the boy I wanted Finlay, nope, he wanted Jack and that's what it is, Jack's low level disgruntled we didn't give him a middle name, he thinks we just couldn't be arsed but we couldn't find one that went.

And with the Beautiful baby daughter she was nameless for 3 days as we just couldn't find one we agreed on, me Abbie or Chloe, him Kirsty or Heather, having been originally put off Lucy by a friends smart arse comment about boobs and juicy Lucy, it was still our favourite so she became Lucy Abigail.

I now wish I had called one of my daughters Grace, which is my mothers name, it would have upset my mother in law, so we didn't. It seems to be a much more popular choice now than it was back in the 1990's when I had my daughters
What about you? like or loathe your name?

29 comments:

Sweet Seahorse said...

My name is Helen Barbara, I don't mind Helen but I'm not so keen on Barbara. My eldest daughter is Brydie Jet. Her father was adamant, 100% certain that he would only have boys, and he had decided before I even got pregnant that his next son would be called Jet (he had 3 boys already). I knew that we needed a girls name and told him that if it was a girl we would call her Brydie. He agreed but only because he didn't believe that we would ever need a girl's name! When she was born we used Jet as her middle name. Our second daughter's name was found by me going through thousands of names and making my choices then passing them to him to like or not. Tiana was the first name we both agreed on. Her middle name is Jade. He had suggested Jade as a first name, which I vetoed because he has a son called Jayden, you can't have Jade and Jayden! The one feature of consistency that I like is their middle names are both semi precious stones. I also like that both their names are common enough that you will find other people with their names but you won't have 5 kids with the same name in the class at school.
xXx Helen

Looking for Blue Sky said...

Ooh this is close to home for me...my kids all have normal names, not too common and not too unusual. Why? Because my real full complete name without any letters missed out is so embarrassing now that I don't use it all. Sadly banks and that insist on using it and you can hear them stumble in amazement when they try to say it without sniggering. BTW I love the names of your kids xx

auntiegwen said...

SS - I know what you mean about not having too many kids with the same name, Jack was 1 of 3 Jack's in his primary school, the year after he was born it was number 1 in the boys name charts!!! xx I love Jet, very cool and mysterious

LFBS - ooh now I want to know your real full embarassing name, you gotta email me and out me out of my nosey misery!!!

Looking for Blue Sky said...

@auntiegwen - it might put you off your cornflakes...

auntiegwen said...

LFBs - oh c'mon now, you can't tease us like that...

SueAnn said...

My name...Sue! I go by my first and middle name...SueAnn. I like it just fine. I don't run in to many Sue's either! So that is cool!!
My son's name is Lee...Lee James! He likes his name too.
So I guess we are all happy over here! Ha!!
Hugs
SueAnn

auntiegwen said...

SueAnn - SueAnn rolls together very well, I associate my full name with crossness as that's the only time I get my full Wendy-Jane, when my mother is about to blow her gasket

Andy said...

I, like Jack, only have one christian name. My parents always told me that it was because they took one look at me and thought that remembering 2 names might be a stretch for me.

I'm intensely proud of my surname, but I really don't have strong feelings about my first name, other than wishing that my mum & dad had taken into account the fact that I would be known as "Andeh" around these parts.

The people that matter most to me tend to call me Andrew.

Nota Bene said...

Nothing wrong with Wendy-Jame, perhaps because it remind me of Wendy James of Transvision Tramp fame....

I hate, hate, hate my middle name, and managed to get my passport done without it being entered. That was a day of great joy.

Mac n' Janet said...

I'm a Janet with a middle name of Marie, after one of my grandmothers. Our daughter April, though she was born in July.

auntiegwen said...

Andy - nothing wrong about being named after my patron saint, I prefer Andrew to Andy though

NB - and because I am your friend I won't tell people your middle name

M&J - I taught a Wednessdai once and she was born on a Tuesday!

Rare Lesser Spotted said...

What a great blog as usual and a fascinating subject close to all our hearts I guess. My given Christian name is Stephen but only my wife and mother call me that when I'm in trouble. The rest of the time I'm called Steve and I sign e-mails and texts and correspondence the same. Do I like it? I guess it's a fairly neutral name but I was very careful when we were chosing my kids names so they weren't shortened or could be riduculed. My youngest is Ben - I call him Bags, my middle lad is John and I call him JP and my eldest is Kyle and he gets the right name.
XX

auntiegwen said...

Steve - I like all your names :) xxx

libby said...

My husband says that I have two middle names...always and right....he is a clever chap....

Anonymous said...

Laura Elizabeth is a beautiful name and one we chose for our daughter as well, after Laura from Little House on the Prairie. The fiesty strong girl.
I hope my girl grows up with the same attributes.

Kelloggsville said...

You lost me on the Santa/tooth Fairy bit, they have never let me down. Harper 7 will forever be known of as 'that Blake 7 one' by me. I hate my name with avengence. I got one of the posher names of our age but always sign myself off as Sally because I am embarrassed by my Sunday name. I know a lot of Wendys of our era but I think it's lovely because it makes me think of Peter Pan.

auntiegwen said...

Libs - he is indeed a clever chap

Anon - I loved little house on the prairie :) and I'm glad you have a lovely Laura in your life

S - I have 3 different friends in my mobile with your Sunday name, I like it though, I wish I wasn't a Wendy, I wonder if it will ever come back into fashion the way that some names have?

mannanan said...

I'm Peter named after my father and hate it because I know that even now I'm in my fifties I'm still known in some quarters as little Peter. Know what you mean about celebrity names. In fact I even mentioned the terrible Harper Seven on my site the other day. Childrens names can cause all sorts of problems. I know when it came to name my three we had trouble giving them only one name each and it took an age before we decided on Mark, Laura and Ellen...

Taz said...

I'm Tara, chosen by my father who may or may not have had a bit of a thing for a certain lady in The Avengers. My Mother agreed as it was a name that could not possible EVER be shortened.
You can only imagine how thrilled she was when I started school and everyone started calling me Taz - and it stuck. LMAO
I think I was probably one of very few kids growing up that liked my name, most kids hated having the standard names of the age, mind you I got sick of the - My Uncle has an Alsation called Tara comments quick enough. ;)

auntiegwen said...

Mannanan - or should I say little Peter now? so you liked Laura as well, I always knew you were a man of impeccable taste :)

Taz - I think Tara is lovely, reminds me of Gone with the wind, which I loved as a teenager, read the book over and over and adored the film. My brother in law got a dog the Christmas I was pregnant with Laura and called it Holly so that was one we had to cross off our list!!!!

Sandi said...

Oh I had a good friend at senior school called Wendy, she had black hair too. I was named Sandra Lee (was going to be Leanne) I hated the way my mother said SanDRA, so I changed it legally to Sandi. My eldest is Paul John (John is his dad's name) my second is James Frederick (Frederick after Johns boss who he adored) and daughter is Kaila Joy (Joy after my aunty) They all like their names except for Joy, can't win them all.
x Sandi

Troy said...

I actually like my blogging name "Troy" but in real life I'm John Charles. Used to be called JC (or Jaycee) at school but not since. Father, grandfather & GGF were all called John. I got the Charles added to differentiate but also because my father watched the great footballer John Charles play in the 1950s.
My son "Troy Junior" is called Andrew John. All the Andrews we know have been successful. We think it sounds professional - a sort of Doctor's name.
I was surprised, having seen your photos on your blog, when I discovered your name is Wendy. I think Gwen suits you as it conjures up in my mind a mix of the sensible and happy go lucky!

auntiegwen said...

Sandi - I always associate Sandi with the character in Grease, I loved that movie and thought Olivia Newton John looked amazing, I so wanted to be her. I think Joy is a lovely name, just full of happiness

Troy - I think John Charles is very distinguished and I have to say I am extremely fond of Andrew, as a good Scot should be. I'm often told I don't look like a Wendy, not sure that haggard old bag has a ring to it though!!!

Wylye Girl said...

I'm Melanie, which I don't like particularly. I was named after Melanie Wilks in 'Gone With the Wind' as my dad had a crush on Olivia de Havilland - why couldn't he call me Olivia instead? My mum wanted to call me Fatima as we were living in Iran at the time. Thank God (or Allah) for small mercies. I didn't meet another Melanie until I was in secondary school but when we lived in France, every other person was called Melanie. My son is called Ciaran. He was supposed to be a girl called Rhianna. He had no name for 2 weeks during which he was called Edward, among other things. Our surname is Jones which limits things a bit - no Toms or Jacks for us. We settled on Ciaran as that is his Irish godfather's name. The Irish spelling confuses everyone and when they find out it is just pronounce 'Keeran' they say 'why do you spell it funny then?'. I point out that this is actually the correct spelling. I wanted to give daughter another Irish name as we were living in Ireland at the time. I loved Siorche (pronounced Sorsha). My husband said 'yeah, great, Cup and Sorsha'. We toyed with Claudia and Olivia but eventually settled on Emily. No-one in Ireland was called Emily. Everyone in England was! She hates it and wants to be called Tallulah! I love Grace but I couldn't name my daughter after a 6ft black lesbian....well I thought she was a lesbian but apparently not!

auntiegwen said...

WG - I would spell Ciaran like you too, I suppose there's a lot of Scots with Irish heritage, ooh how exotic would you have been as a Fatima?

Mud said...

My name actually isn't 'Mud'. Which is lucky. I'm Claire (giving secrets away now!!) which is fine - but not particularly exciting. My Granny was very keen on my having a name that couldn't easily be shortened as she was a Monica, called Knickers at school.

My great-great- granny went by the wonderful name of Cuckoo, and her daughter, my great-granny was called Irish - because her parents were arguing all the way up to the church for her christening about what to call her and there were irises growing by the door, so they settled on that!

auntiegwen said...

Mud - Cuckoo sounds good, knickers less so :)

The Girl Behind said...

I'm an almost-40 year old Louise. Occasionally Lou to my very closest friends.

I've always liked my name, but never really felt that I've done it justice. Feel I should be running through cornfields, shoulder-length hair billowing behind me.

auntiegwen said...

TGB - I love that imagery, my best friend in Scotland is called Linda but I've always called her Lou, it's a name that always makes me feel happy