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How (Not) to Choose a Baby Name

April 2, 2015 Linda Rosenkrantz

By Kate Gunn

It’s a fact that my mother actually refused to tell her friends what I had chosen to call my third child. Instead she took the “I don’t think she’s decided yet” option. Which got a bit lame after about six months. She was actually mortified by our choice of name for each of the three children, but this last one was obviously one step too far.

It could possibly have been something to do with the fact that we had inadvertently named the boy after my sister’s dead childhood pet – a hamster that went by the name of Baxter. How this had escaped my memory I’m really not sure – but by the time it was pointed out to me it was simply too late.

Sorry Baxter – being the namesake of a dead hamster isn’t really the greatest start in life is it?

Oh, or of a pot of vintage marmalade. (see photo above) No wonder he’s despairing.

But going back to my mother…We had actually eased her in to the name game fairly gently, so she should really have built up some resistance by the time Baxter came along. We called our first child Kaya (“No, Mum, it rhymes with ‘hiya’. Hiya, Kaya) – different but not too crazy.

But the thing with choosing ‘different’ names is that 1) you can’t expect everyone to like them, and 2) unexpected things can come of them. In Baxter’s case it was being named after a dead hamster. In Kaya’s it was our finding out that not only did it mean “elder sister” (aww), it also meant “really strong weed”.

So. Kudos in college for her, I guess.

We named our middle child Marley, again much to the disdain of my mother and the amusement of my siblings. And once again the universe struck back, as a year later the book and film Marley and Me raced up the bestseller charts.

So that’s a dead dog and a dead hamster ticked off the list. I just can’t wait to see what deceased-animal sensation comes along to knock Kaya off her ganja-laced throne.

Anyway, by now everyone has got used the “strange”,  and even my mother manages to utter their names without too much of a grimace, so that’s good. But for anyone who is thinking of naming their child anything outside of the norm, my advice would be to develop a thick skin – if grandparents or the possibility of dead animals are involved – chances are you’re going to need it.

Kate writes about parenting and lifestyle on her blog Kate Takes 5 and can be found on Facebook and Twitter. She also writes occasional features for the Irish Independent and The Huffington Post.

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