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Confessions of a Teenage Name Disaster

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Guest blogger Brooke Dowd Sacco, expecting her first child, is relieved she wasn’t a teenage mother. Sure, having a baby at such a tender age would have been hard, but what really freaks her out is the thought of the names she might have chosen back then.

I would have been a terrible teen mom. Sorry Farrah, Maci, and Amber, I just don’t know how you do it. No, I’m not referring to my parenting skills (or the lack thereof), I’m talking about baby naming skills. For me, naming my child as a teen would have been like selecting my husband in High School or getting tattooed on spring break: bad choices. Looking back through past journals and scribbly notes, the child that I would have birthed as a teen would have been named Tristan or Sayla. I happen to think those names are still quite lovely, but now that I’m four months pregnant with my first child, those are not my baby’s names.

Some teenagers have sophisticated, fully-formed taste in names — hello, teen berries! — but that wasn’t me.  Rather, like many people, my name tastes have changed and evolved over the years.

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It was our very own message boards that tipped us off to the trend: Obsessive Name-Loving Teens, as the forum is titled, is where the youngest nameberryites meet, hang out, swap tales of how weird their friends and parents think they are.   But we don’t think they’re weird at all.  In fact, when we were their age, we would have been spending all our spare time in the same place. Guest blogger KRISTINE RASMUSSEN, one of the board regulars, tells us here what it’s like to be a name-loving teen.

Wandering through the bookstore with Grandma as a little girl, I came across a book that called to me. It was square, blue, and had storks on the cover. Flipping through it, I found that it had hundreds and hundreds of names. Fascinated, I ran to Grandma. And so, at not even eight, I got my very first baby name book.

In junior high school, I started to write. A character needs a name– scratch that, not just any name– THE name.. Desperate for The Perfect Name for my character, I went to the bookstore. I couldn’t find a book called The Perfect Name for Your Character, only ones about the perfect name for your baby!  I was thirteen, and boy, did I get a look from the cashier! It was a baby name book, and I was a teenager.

But then, naming characters wasn’t enough. Girls in my high school were having babies, and I was inspired to look for names for my own future children. Ethan and Lily were my favorites for three years, but then Ethan boomed, and so did Lily. What was I to do? Let them be Ethan #3 and Lily #4? No! I needed something I didn’t hear on little children I met, and so I pulled out the old, falling-apart name book.

I went through phases- Audrey, Adeline, Grace, Isabella and Lucy. . . Zachary and Sam. . I started mentioning names to my mother, and I got the same look from her that I got from the cashier at Barnes & Noble. “Are you pregnant?” I explained that I just liked– no, loved– names.

I starting looking up my friend’s names, listening to what mothers called their children at the mall. . When friends of the family named their newborn daughter Serenity, I thought they were crazy. So many glorious, beautiful names, and they name their baby Serenity?

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