Naming a baby…

… is difficult. Well, was difficult for us.

My name is Melissa. My parents thought they were choosing a nice, simple but not common name. Apparently, though, so did all the other parents of girls born in 1988. I was known as ‘Melissa F.’ for the first seven years of my schooling life, and I did not like that.
My family’s nicknames for me were variations of Liss, but never Mel.
I’m ok with my name now. I respect that my parents picked it and like it, and mostly I’m happy to have an average name. Sometimes I wish it were a little less popular.

Jene finds his name to be something of a burden. It is indeed what you probably first assume – Gene with a J – but he has a lifetime of having to correct misspellings and mispronunciations. It’s not a common name like mine, and it’s a bother for him. At our birth classes, he spelt his name tag with a G to avoid confusion.

So these are the perspectives from which each of us approached the task of naming.

Both of us knew without saying – no silly spellings. We’re intelligent people. All you’re doing when you call your child ‘Alixzander’ (I did see this. In real life.) is creating a lifetime of frustration for both the kid and anyone who meets him. And when you’re screaming at him in the supermarket, people only hear ‘Alexander’.

Our first problem was, I am much pickier about names than Jene. We would take turns with the name book, and while Jene could easily get ten, fifteen, twenty names he would consider, I would struggle to get five.
I tended to like gender-neutral names, while Jene would pick feminine girls names and masculine boys names.

Add to this more conditions –
– Names with meanings related to God, such as ‘God is great’, were out. Neither of us is religious, and we weren’t particularly willing to name our kid after something we don’t believe in.
– Names to be considered should have a reasonably significant meaning.
– No names beginning with J.
– Generally, no last names as first names. I say generally, because a great a deal of names are both first and surnames, but I mean specifically names that have recently been cropping up. Cooper, Harrison, Jackson, Taylor, etc.
– Ideally the initials wouldn’t spell a word, but that wasn’t imperative. Also, it would be nice to be able to shorten it to a nickname, but again, not a high priority.

When we knew he was a boy, we cut out squares of paper, wrote down ALL of our possibilities (around 30, maybe?) plus one with the last name, and started mixing and matching.

I don’t quite remember how we got there, but at one point there was a conversation along the lines of, “So I guess we’re going with Devin?”
“Well… I like Devin.”
You know. Basically.

Devin has a nice meaning. It has only two main spellings. It is not a common name in Australia – in fact, I’d never heard of a Devin/Devon here until a few weeks ago, when someone said there was a Devon on Master Chef.
We can shorten it to Dev and Devy. It is somewhat gender-neutral, but more common for boys. And it has a pretty self-explanatory pronunciation.

The middle name turned out to be much harder than the first. We were leaning towards names like Patrick, Hugo… even Julius and Leif were in there. We kept almost deciding on Patrick, but we weren’t sure it was quite right. Nothing was quite right.
Eventually, two days before he arrived and after a convoluted process of elimination, we ended up with James. Common but classic, a complement for the different first name. It was a J, but it worked, and now we all have Js in our initials. (Coincidentally, not purposefully.)

We’d decided on Devin months before he was born, but we didn’t tell anyone. No one had a clue what we were even considering, except for one friend each. Generally, people seem to like his name, but that’s not of great importance. We like it, and we hope that Devin will like it. And not hate us.
(I really don’t think he’ll hate us.)


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