In which our reluctant hero addresses an early parental challenge…
One of the first important tasks that you’ll most likely be involved in as a dad to be is a tricky one. No, not that. Something far more challenging. And dangerous, if you’re not careful.
Naming things. Sounds easy doesn’t it? Have a can and you don’t know how to get the contents out? Invented something to open it? Why not just name your gadget after the thing it does? Call it a “can opener” perhaps? Does exactly what it says on the tin. Probably.
Now this technique is all well and good for shiny inanimate metal objects, but not so useful when considering real live human babies. If it was, all children would be called “Screamy Hungry Stink Face” or variants on this theme, which would never do in polite society. Even in Wolverhampton.
Naming this blog was tricky enough. What would represent blogging from a dad’s perspective? “The Blogfather” was a possibility but had been used so many times that I may as well have tried to register “Oliver!” God bless Lionel Bart. (One for the kids there…)
So I considered (and even registered) “Daddy McDadface” as an amusing alternative. A most genius idea until it was pointed out that nobody may get the reference in a couple of months time. And when I subsequently tried to change the name to “David Attenborough” it no longer made sense. So “Babysitting The Kids” it became. Cos that’s what us Dads do occasionally, when we’re not down the pub watching the football, innit?
The only experience that I had of naming anything prior to having little people was naming the cats. Seeing as they’re called Audrey and Momo Sissoko, you would think I was somewhat overqualified for the job. You’d be right too, but this didn’t give me the required note from my mum to skip P.E.
Can openers. A blog. Cats. All well and good, but getting it wrong with a person is a mistake that could prove costly. Thirty-six quid in deed poll fees for starters.
My regular listener may be unsurprised to learn that I’m not a fan of modern names (“Nutella” is so last year.) Names that sound like what your pet dog was called in the eighties are also a no-no.
Many parents look for other sources of inspiration these days. Naming your child after your favourite finalist off of last year’s Britain’s Got Talent (has it? really?) may have seemed a good, fashionable thing at the time but now you’re stuck with a baby with the middle name “Boogie Storm.” Happy with that? Thought not.
So, something more traditional then. But what? They’re all so dull.
After the thirty-sixth night of sitting there with the baby names book and all sorts of “Now That’s What I Call the Best 100 Names of the Year 2011!” type lists, it all started getting a bit much and my interest waned. Perhaps we should not bother and let the little person pick his or her own name when they get to eighteen? They’re going to hate the one that we chose by then anyway so it seems reasonable to defer the decision. Sadly, you’re not allowed. I checked.
Manning up for a brief moment, I decided that decisive action was needed. In the form of a spreadsheet no less. That will sort it.
Having Googled “Dickensian character names” to add to our scribbled out list of maybes, an industrious half hour of copying, pasting, concatenating (and my personal favourite, VLOOKUPs) ensued. The result, two massive spreadsheets containing every combination of first name, middle name and our surname possible had we lived in the nineteenth century. Print off, get the red pen ready and start whittling down to about a dozen of each gender. Then simply hand the final decision back, working on the basis that any suggestion I make would be wrong anyway, and done. Easy.
Admittedly, due to a problem with the spreadsheet, our little people all ended up with the middle name “#REF!” but I feel that they’ve grown into it.
A couple of years on and I think we made good choices. Quite classic, links to family and heritage, and sensible enough to ensure that they won’t turn their heads if someone is calling after a runaway labradoodle on the beach.
And no, I’m not telling you what the names are. Get Googling, start a spreadsheet, and work it out for yourself.