Category: Laura Dunphy
BENJAMIN – Laura Dunphy and her husband, Mike, are mourning the loss of the name Benjamin, which was terminated from their Baby Name List on Friday May 21, 2010, after a long and debilitating ailment.
Almost 11 years ago, Benjamin – as they called him, Ben – was the very first boy’s name borne onto their List. Laura and Mike came to a nearly immediate agreement that Ben held so many attractive qualities: it was classic without being blah, it flowed nicely with Mike’s challenging last name, and it had the delightful fringe benefit of honoring Laura’s beloved former professor, Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee.
A year into Ben’s tenure at the top of the List, signs of trouble emerged. Laura’s friend Kate knew about Ben’s number one spot and also that Sophie was Ben’s top-ranking companion on the girls’ side. One day Kate called Laura to say that a VP at her investment bank just named his baby daughter Sophie, and he happened to have an older son named Ben. “That’s funny,” Laura said.
Two years later, Laura and Mike’s friend Ann reported that she was sitting in the office of an editor at her magazine, and the woman started telling a story about her kids, Sophie and Ben. “That’s weird,” Laura said.
And then it started happening. Dedications in books to Sophie and Ben, mentions in magazines (“So-and-so travels everywhere with her ferrets, Sophie and Ben”), moms running after kids in grocery stores (“Sophie, don’t you dare throw that watermelon at Ben!”). It was an epidemic.
Journalist Laura Dunphy, today’s guest blogger, enlightens us on what might not be so bad about your Mom hating your baby’s name.
My mother hates my daughter’s name.
And – don’t tell her this, please – I think it’s made me a better person.
My husband and I always thought that if we had a girl we’d call her Sophie Madeline. But when I was expecting our daughter, we decided we’d rather balance the growing popularity of Sophie with a more distinctive French name in the middle: Mireille.
When we officially announced the arrival of Sophie Mireille, my poshest friends raved. “What a lovely, very French-sounding name!” my globetrotting European pal Beatriz enthused. “Mireille is a fantastic, seriously underused name,” said Ann, an editor at a major entertainment magazine. My former boss Michelle, a retail executive who is always fabulously attired and never hands out an insincere compliment, gushed endlessly about how much she loved it. Oh, the delight!
Leave it to my mother to put an end to my glee. As we sat chatting around the dinner table one night, she mentioned that a family friend’s daughter, Zoe, was being called Zozo. I scrunched my face and asked, “Zozo? What kind of a nickname is that? It’s not even shorter than the original name.” To which my mother replied, “I don’t think you should be saying anything about anyone’s name.”
Stunned, I asked for an explanation, only to be informed that Mireille was not a real name. I believe my mother’s exact words were, “It’s horrible. We hate it.” My father nodded in solemn agreement. Apparently at some point over the course of the previous decade, I’d mentioned the name Sophie Madeline, and my parents had gotten attached to their vision of a fantasy granddaughter. As in, one with a name they had heard of before.