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Teens Who Love Names (and how they explain it to Mom)

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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?

I never liked my own name, Kristine. I wasn’t named for anyone and it’s always spelled “Christine”, two things that have continually bugged me. I think children should be named after someone, from a family member to a loyal friend to a literary character.

My love of names comes from my love of language and history.  I adore the names of queens and kings (Elizabeth! Henry!) and from mythology (like Penelope or Orion). These names are so full of a history that I can’t help but love them. As a writer, I am very drawn to literary names, especially those from Harry Potter and Shakespeare—I’m crazy about Harry, Hermione, Albus, Luna, Juliet, Cordelia, and Fabian. Atticus is one of my favorites; I love the character of Atticus Finch and to be named for someone for such a well-known hero would be an honor.

I have a list of names, now, that I love. While Lucy and Sam are still on the list, I don’t love them. I love Lily still, regardless of her popularity, Esmé for the sound, Eleanor for the beauty . I am still drawn to Juliet and Alice.. Most of the Rose names, as the smell of a rose reminds me of my great grandparent’s house. Charles and Edward, I find, you cannot go wrong with (and I do love that vampire!) But then I start thinking about Theodore, Eli, and Noah. Would they be better than a little Charlie?

There are, also, names that make me cringe. I don’t think parents should even be allowed to name their children Nevaeh or Jesus (those are my biggest pet peeves!) or any word name that they find sounds “name-y.” Serenity, I’m talking to you!

Mom still thinks I’m crazy (“You’re not pregnant! What’s the point?), but I have two friends (aged seventeen and fourteen) that are just how I am with names, though a bit less obsessed. Every time I fall for a new name, or harder for one that I wasn’t so sure about before, they hear about it. And they ask me what I think of their list of names, and together we’re plotting. Our future husbands have no say on our children’s names. While we do value our husbands-to-be’s opinions, we love our lists. The names are perfect!

Making these lists makes us think of the future in avid detail– where are we going to live? What type of school will our little ones go to? Will they even go to the same one?? When naming a future child, I want to find a name that sounds good on a eighty-year-old, but is adorable on a child, too. And I hope and pray and wish that my children will actually be among those who love their names.

Now, at eighteen, there is only one name that I think is absolutely perfect, and my parents keep trying to talk me out of it– Henry. When I read The Time Traveler’s Wife, I fell in love with Henry DeTamble AND his name. It was PERFECT. I will name Future Son #1 Henry, I told my parents and my fellow-name-obsessed friends. My parents just frowned, but my friends oooh’d and aaww’d. A month ago, I had a dream that I had a little boy named Henry, and it has cemented my love for the name. He was such a happy little one, and looked like my uncle! The name’s even growing on my mother, which does make me conspiratorial. Maybe, someday, she’ll accept Esmé . . .

Kristine Rasmussen is an eighteen-year-old college freshman at Grand Canyon University in Arizona. As a novelist, she loves researching names to find the perfect choices for her characters. She also loves making lists, reading, and spending time with her forty-five pets (who all have exceptionally fitting names, of course).

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