A New Dad's Guide to Naming Your Child

Your wife is pregnant. You are, presumably, the father. Months of anticipation, painting, odd dietary choices, bloating, new and different clothes and the moment is almost here. Your wife is probably going through some things as well. Now, what to name your offspring?

What’s in a name? Our prehistoric brethren didn’t have names, just guttural sounds and pointing gestures, similar to my house on rib night. Our Medieval times ancestors named themselves after what they did which is why we have Smith, Baker, and Claimadjuster as surnames. Fast forward to the renaissance and we over-named our children. George Wallace Overstreet Lancelot Tiffany Prescott Charles was more common than some guy named Joe who just tended his fields and hung out with the guys around the fire.

Naming your kid is a big deal. I’ve done it three times. Four if you count our dog. Five if you count the time I renamed our three-year-old Admiral Poopy Pants.

Naming your kid is a big deal. I’ve done it three times. Four if you count our dog. Five if you count the time I renamed our three-year-old Admiral Poopy Pants. It’s a big responsibility, which naturally means as a male we will need guidance or total abandonment in order to survive. Hans…Booby…I’m your white knight. I’m here to guide you through the quagmire of naming your child by laying down several easy to follow ground rules.

The Red Wedding

Remember when you got married? You don’t? Then remember the months/weeks/hours leading up to the blessed event? Remember how your wife turned from a carefree woman of the wild into a psychotic, detail dwelling, event planner whom you often didn’t recognize? On the scale of life, wedding planning is a 10 and childbirth is a 478. By this time your wife has already decided what your yet to be born child will be eating on day 23 of Month 29. She’s got clothes, furniture, food, and the kiddo’s entire educational progression plotted, probably on a spread sheet and no, you don’t have clearance to see that spread sheet.

This is for the best. Our job, as with wedding planning, is simple. We guide the ship away from rocky shores. Remember how the wife wanted to play a Céline Dion song or the theme from Beauty and the Beast as your first dance? How did you handle it? By gently and subtly guiding the conversation and the choice to safer shores and away from the theme to Aladdin, that's how. She probably wanted to do some sort of eternity candle mixed with a cello solo, communion, and an art project in the middle of the ceremony. You, the captain of the ship my friend, guided her to a scripture reading and an ice sculpture at the reception that drained out vodka shots.

You’ve done this, the key is to realize this is way more important to her, or at least we have to make her think it is. We come in as the calm, collected, impartial support; we’re here to help her through this time. We project minimal investment and good old, down home common sense solutions. Then we sneak in an almost subliminal plug for our name, usually in the form of a calculated three pronged choice in which two of the three names will be dismissed. But the one, yes that one name “just sort of works doesn’t it honey, you’re right. Let’s think about that one.” It’s an art that we must master in order to insure the best chance of having our choice be in the running at the end of the day. All while rowing like crazy to avoid having a child named Sebastian LaRue.

The Playground Rules

I view my job as a naming member of the family as first and foremost to make sure that my child is on the dishing end of playground insults, not the receiving end. I was a child who was called every derivative of my name because I was in grade school when the Smurfs came into prominence. I played tag and red rover every day as “Gargamel” which quickly ramped up to “Gardalesmells”, and eventually “that kid who’s crying by himself near the swings.”

I say this under the following disclaimer, I don’t have issue with any of these names, but the playground is prison rules and every man for himself. Let’s avoid some names as a rule: Nick, Richard, Patt, Patty, Gay, Gaylord, Mitch, Maggy, or anything that rhymes with poo, doody, or any other private part that I won’t mention because I’m not a potty mouth.

Democracy Never

A few years ago my wife and I were picking out paint colors for our house and my wife’s friend who shall remain nameless but whose name is Catherine came over to hang out. Talk immediately turned to our choice of wall colors and Catherine, not her real name, only it is her real name, shockingly chose to agree with my wife on paint color. This is the equivalent of China and Cuba getting together to pick paint color. Industrial gray? Absolutely! I immediately informed both my wife and Catherine that while we appreciated her input, in matters of home décor, non-family citizens have not earned a vote. After Catherine left of course we picked my wife’s paint color, but parliamentary procedure rules the day.

Your job is, as was our forefathers, to fight for our right to limit the ability of others to vote and to do so no matter the cost.

Some of you have grandmothers, mothers, aunts, nieces, friends, etc. who are itching to cast a ballot for your child’s name. This isn’t Ohio where ANYONE can cast a vote. Your job is, as was our forefathers, to fight for our right to limit the ability of others to vote and to do so no matter the cost. Note that none of these potential interlopers listed above are male. If you have a male friend who’s really interested in the name discussion, you need to reexamine that friendship and inform the rest of us of his behavior. We can’t have that guy running lose in modern society.

The Middle Name

A quick word on the middle name, this name is often misunderstood and underestimated and your child will understand this better than you. The middle name is the uh oh, what did I do verbal warning. Think back to whenever you did something really bad as a kid. Your mom threw out your FULL name and I bet your dad did as well. The middle name is the siren call of immanent pain.

The middle name is really only used in very formal, very bad situations. What was the last serial killer who didn’t go with three names? When you are arraigned in court the judge is going to bust out that middle name. When they are announcing the list of people who went over the cliff with the nuns in the bus, they’ll use all three names. The middle name is not to be trifled with.

The Best Advice I Ever Got

My father in law was the Marlboro man mixed with a bad ass, with a hint of astronaut and test pilot. My wife’s dad rode bulls in the rodeo, hitch hiked, was a cattle rancher, started his own company, built guns, hunted with a spear (no, I am not at all kidding), carried a 9mm everywhere, and had a horse that he would ride on occasion. He was a short man, but when he shook your hand he doubled in size. He ate red meat, drank brown liquor, charmed ladies and put fear in men’s hearts. I took a sip of his morning coffee once and grew hair on my chest and in my ears, while my eyes watered and eventually had to go lay down. He was on his third cup.

Our kids know him as Bronco when we tell them stories. His advice in naming a child was this, just read the Sunday rodeo results if you want a good, strong name. He’s right, of course even if he was wrong I wouldn’t say it out loud. The current PRCA standings give a veritable Chinese buffet of names to choose from; Tuf, Rhen, Jake, Caleb, Shane, Luke, Tanner, Ace, Rocky, Cort, and Tyrel. Use them in any combination.

I like to stick with All-Around Cowboy when perusing the list because who wouldn’t want to be named after some dude who was such a dude that he was listed as an All-Around Cowboy. Because let’s be honest, we all want to be an All-Around Cowboy.

Because let’s be honest, we all want to be an All-Around Cowboy.

For girls names, Bronco wasn’t too specific on that, but I might suggest reading a Larry McMurtry or Cormac McCarthy novel to get ideas, just not Blood Meridian because that book will freak you right out. Also for the ladies’ names, don’t be afraid to throw in a PRCA approved moniker. Imagine the knowing nods you’ll get from the dads at kindergarten graduation when Sunny Rhen Smith crosses the stage. Respect.

So there you go, name your child but be smart about it. These are delicate maneuvers and not for the uninitiated. Have a plan and work it. If not, you and Chastity Grace will pay for it later.

Posted on September 11, 2013 .