You’re not going to spell her name right —you might as well just call her “the baby.”
Confession: We gave our daughter a weird name.
It’s not, like, celebrity weird. It is not a cardinal direction or a common fruit. But it’s just quirky enough that she will never, ever, find her name on a gas station keychain.
The name could have been relatively normal, but we spelled it wrong. On purpose.
When I posted it on Facebook, I could almost feel the judgment behind all of the likes. But you know what? We had a reason, one that means a lot to us. And I bet you do too, whether you turned Haley into Hailee, pulled Archibald out of the vault, or named your twins Lemonjello and Orangejello.
I may be new to parenting, but I have 31 years of experience with weird names. Hi, my name is Daci, and I’m positive you just pronounced that wrong in your head (you’re not alone). But you know what? I’m over it. I’m used to being called Darcy, Dawson, even Dynasty that one time. I would even go so far as to say that it made me a more interesting and easy-going human.
So if you’ve got a Padraig or a Camryn or a Lightbulb at home, and you’re feeling judged, here are a few thoughts from someone who has stopped telling Starbucks baristas her real name—and resigned her daughter to the same fate:
- A unique name is a built-in conversation-starter. Congratulations! You’ve saved your child from that awkward silence that comes after “nice to meet you.” From now until eternity, she will spend the first few minutes of every conversation explaining her name. Some people choose to look at this as a bad thing —I say it’s helped me with my people skills.
- The grass is always greener. Nearly every Jennifer, Megan, and Sarah I’ve ever met has told me they were jealous of my unique name. Which is funny because on the first day of school every year, as I waited for the teacher to mispronounce my name, I shrunk into my desk and prayed that my name would suddenly change to Jennifer. My point: you’re not necessarily making your kid happier by forgoing the unique name.
- A name can tell a story. My daughter is the child of an immigrant, but on first impression nothing about her tells that story—except her name. In the assimilated society we live in, a unique name can be a badge of pride. If that’s something you’re considering, one day that will mean more to your kid than a personalized keychain. (Although I imagine finding your name on one of those racks of keychains is the equivalent of being handed a litter of puppies and a winning lottery ticket by Oprah. I guess I’ll never know.)
- A normal name doesn’t exclude you from bullying. Internet moms like to claim that if you give your kid an unusual name, they’ll get teased. Here’s the sad truth— Every kid gets teased for something, at some point. This one episode of Full House that I saw approximately 20 years ago always spoke to me: The kids at Stephanie’s school are making fun of her [extremely normal] name, calling her Step On Me. She wants to change her name to Dawn. Danny Tanner, in his infinite wisdom, calmly tells her that if her name were Dawn, the kids would think of something else to call her, like “Dawn”-ald Duck. The comforting music played in the background. They hugged. Comet wagged his tail. I learned a life lesson. And I hope you did, too.