Writer’s Block: It’s Time To Play “Name That Baby!”

by Corinne Wnek

I have been to a record number of baby showers this year and there’s still more to come. If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. So for the benefit of the guys out there, it goes something like this. There’s food, piles of gifts and a gaggle of ladies belting out a symphony of ‘ahh’s’ at the first sight of a receiving blanket.

There are some noticeable differences among younger couples today as they prepare for parenthood compared with counterparts from just a generation ago. For one thing, people are getting away from the use of blue and pink as baby colors. Now, it’s browns, tans and other neutral colors. How did it ever come to this?

Another area that is strikingly different from the past is in the choice of baby names, now revealed early in the pregnancy, as more and more couples want to know if it will be a boy or a girl. Me? Planning be damned. I like surprises! But when it comes to naming the baby, that’s where there are widespread differences.

My favorite names are those that have withstood the test of time. I like the classics in most things so names like Elizabeth, Victoria, Catherine, Jacqueline and Claire appeal to me. There’s a certain comfort in attaching yourself to something that’s been around forever.

Way back in the forties and fifties, some common names for newborns were Millie, Florence, Arthur, Gladys, Herbert, Harriet, Edna, Thelma, Harold, Francis, Ralph, Nancy and Linda, just to name a few.

By contrast, the sixties were more about personal expression and a connection to the universe and to our inner selves. So more exotic names like Star, Amber, Dawn, Crystal, Tiffany, Joy and Karma became popular.

Biblical names made a comeback soon afterwards and suddenly a whole new crop of kids sprang up with names like Jeremiah, Joshua, Caleb, Jessie, Ruth, Noah and, of course Sarah.

I have the most trouble with androgynous names; that is, names that don’t suggest anything about the person, including their gender. Over the years, I’ve known Campbells, Chases, Jaydens, Caseys, Brogans and Brins. I‘ve always tried not to look too stunned when the opposite of what I was expecting walked in the room. Of course the rash of odd celebrity kid names haven’t helped as in Apple, Knox and Shiloh, courtesy of Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie and Tom Cruise.

I often wonder about why parents choose these unusual names for their child. The most popular theory among psychologists is that parents want their kids to standout from the crowd in a world that is becoming more and more competitive. Why blend in and be like everybody else? Well, the trouble is there comes a time when it is the goal of every teenager to blend in and be like everybody else.

In the complex world of adolescence, it really doesn’t matter what you’re called, just as long as you’re called!

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