Many of my friends are having babies. This, of course, is unfortunate. I’m happy for them, sure. But let’s be honest. Do we really need more people? Aren’t there already enough? Isn’t all this procreation putting an incredible strain on our national resources? What if we run out of bauxite?
My protests, which I utter under my breath and out of earshot, always fall on deaf ears that are not listening. As such, I have resigned myself to the fact that my friends who once celebrated Easter by throwing a watermelon out of a second-story dorm window are now, or soon will be, responsible for fragile human lives.
Yes, the same people who once considered the margarita a vital food group now have important decisions to make. Should they burn the college photo album or hide it? Remove the “Natural Light Forever” tattoo or have an artist turn it into the more baby-friendly “Natal LiFer”? Go to homecoming or attend daughter’s first birthday party?
Perhaps the most difficult decision of all: Should they give their child a normal, traditional name or follow through on their junior-year promise to name their firstborn kid Kegerator Powerchugger?
My friend Sara and her sister Laura are currently in the process of naming Laura’s baby. In spite of months of effort, the sisters have discovered that the baby-naming game can be a snake pit filled with fire-breathing sharks that can fly.
“It’s the parents’ first permanent decision,” Laura said. “You can buy furniture together and if you don’t like it, it can be replaced. You can buy a house and if it doesn’t suit your needs five years down the line, you move. You can alter almost any decision you come to together, but a kid’s name is NOT an easy thing to change.
If you changed it at age 5, they’d be all sorts of confused.”
According to Laura, the plethora of options has parents all sorts of confused too.
At the turn of the last century, all male children in the United States were named Frank or Joe. Anyone not named Frank or Joe was sent to Canada, and rightfully so. Now there are so many names to choose from, it’s like every American kid is a Canadian.
According to www.babycenter.com, the 10 most popular names for boys in 2003 were Jacob, Aidan, Ethan, Matthew, Nicholas, Joshua, Ryan, Michael, Zachary and Tyler. For girls: Emily, Emma, Madison, Hannah, Hailey, Sarah, Kaitlyn, Isabella, Olivia and Abigail.
These are hardly Biblical classics – except for Tyler, the patron saint of Pabst beer and kicking butt at darts.
This month’s “Playboy” – a magazine from which I get an estimated 97 percent of my parenting news – says that 298 girls were named Armani in 2000. The magazine also listed seven Courvoisiers, six Timberlands, five Celicas and one Xerox. I’m assuming that Xerox was the second in a set of twins, but I could be way off.
What’s more, actress Gwyneth Paltrow and rocker Chris Martin recently upped the ante by naming their daughter Apple. It’s no rapper-endorsed cognac, but it’s a nice name. Personally, it makes me think of apples.
Bottom line: Being a parent in today’s world, even when you’re not quite a parent yet because the baby hasn’t been born, isn’t easy. To my friends and all others who will soon be parents, I offer this advice – be original. The world doesn’t need another Jacob or Emily.
I recommend Bauxite if it’s a boy. Kegerator Powerchugger if it’s a girl.
(Originally published 5/19/04.)
Click here to read the previous column “French, Russians and Canadians Proved Wrong: You Can Be Happy.”