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Opinion: What’s in a name, baby?

'(Now please send in nana’s name for inspiration.)'
Naming a baby is more fun and exciting in theory than it winds up being in reality.

There are several things in life that seem more fun and exciting in theory than they wind up being in reality.

Road trips: you get in the car loaded with your fresh, clean pillows, a phone full of podcasts and a great adventure before you. But half a day in, your back hurts, you’ve splattered pee on your Birkenstocks from a roadside stop, and spilled coffee all over the dashboard.

Wedding dress shopping: everything looks beautiful on Instagram, but when you get to the shop it’s all too fluffy or tight or hideous and you realize this is going to be a longer process than you’d hoped.

Then, of course, the big one: naming your baby, imagined or impending.

After much debate about one-and-done versus just one more, I’ve got what my sister has deemed an “encore baby” cooking for July.

She comes almost exactly two years after her sister (July 2021). And, if you caught the pronoun there, it’s another girl. Which is great. I’m over the moon.

However, I don’t want to re-use our rejected first-round baby girl names on this second baby, who already, I can tell, isn’t getting the same level of attention as the first. (The first time, I could tell you my exact week and the comparable size of vegetable or inanimate object she was at any given moment, as made up by several baby apps.)

No one wants parenting advice, but I’m going to give you some anyway. Should you find yourself in the family way, make sure you avoid one thing: telling anyone your chosen baby name before the birth.

Stall, say you’re not sure, say you want to “meet the baby first” (though I never understood this as the newborn doesn’t have much to say after making their exit). Just don’t let the fact that someone had a shitty “Nora” in their Grade 3 class sway your choice.

I’d estimate about 50 per cent of people were being polite, but did not approve of our daughter’s name (Margot, which several people instantly mispronounced by adding the silent “T.” Hopefully the Barbie movie will change this.)

I think I would’ve cared a lot more with the baby still in utero, but now that’s she’s a hilarious and wonderful tiny human who refers to herself as “Marmo,” anyone who doesn’t like it can kick rocks, as far as I’m concerned.

There’s actually a surprising amount of research on the impact a name has on a person. The gist (primarily summarized from the legwork neatly laid out in this podcast) is that it is unlikely a name will make or break who a child becomes, but, rather, the name itself is a parent subconsciously signalling their own identity and even political leanings.

High-income, educated parents, for example, on both sides of the political spectrum, stick to more classic names, though conservatives will be drawn to the truly common classics and liberals to the more unique.

Low-income, less educated parents, the studies say, are more drawn to unique names, often coming up with their own spelling (say, adding “y”s to “Madysyn,” as the example given in the podcast.)

I’m certain this isn’t true in every—or maybe even most—cases, but it is a little humbling to realize they’re probably right in that we choose names that reflect the way we want to be perceived. (This makes sense, as I truly feel like “Margot” somehow does reflect my husband and I perfectly.)

I did a quick search, but couldn’t turn up any substantial information on Whistler’s baby naming trends. Still, I’d hazard a guess there are quite a few Forests, Rivers, and Willows running around out there.

So, with that in mind, if I tell you I’m almost exclusively drawn to “cute and semi-unique old-lady names” and would never choose anything even remotely new and trendy (that’s how you end up with the Lindas and Karens of 2048—not that they’re bad names, but they are sure taking a beating these days), what does that say about me?

The point is, this process is harder and less fun than you’d think—and I’m grateful beyond measure to be going through it.

(Now please send in nana’s name for inspiration.)

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