What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet …
— William Shakespeare (Juliet, in Romeo and Juliet)
There was an article in the newspaper this morning with the title:
One in five grandparents hate their grandchild’s name
Hang about, I thought, since when do the grandparents have a say in naming another person’s child? They’ve had their turn already.
Naming your child can be as easy as pie, or an absolute nightmare of indecision — but surely it is the sole right of the parent. Whether other people will like it shouldn’t come into the decision process. (The future impact of the name on the child is a whole different kettle of fish, but that’s not what this is about.)
The article talked about grandparent responses upon finding out the name of their new grandchild. These ranged from: “What?” to refusing to refer to the child by the chosen name, and directly expressing their dislike of the name to sucking it up and not saying anything (then either getting over it, or living a life of resentment).
I will admit reading the article made me wonder about my child’s grandparents (and great grandparents) and whether or not they ‘like’ the names I chose for my two children. I put that to bed quickly though; I don’t care because I like their names and, believe it or not, I did put quite a bit of thought into them — did they sound right? could any horrible nicknames be created? did the initials create an embarrassing acronym? Choosing my son’s name also had the added difficulty of not being able to start with J (because, as any teacher knows, you don’t use a J-name with boys).
As much as I stand up for the right of parents to choose their child’s name without the fear of it being disliked or ridiculed by the very people who should love you (and the child) the most — there are perhaps certain celebrities (and probably many non-celebrities too) whose parents should have intervened.
What do you think of Buddy Bear Maurice, River Rocket Blue, and Petal Blossom Rainbow? (Really, Jamie Oliver! You’re a sensational cook, but …). Or perhaps Blanket. (Now, that was Michael Jackson, so need I say more?) How about Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily? (Michael Hutchence and Paula Yates. Drug addled much? Or not?)
Then again — although I feel sorry for these kids, what business is it of mine?
Nobody has ever passed a negative comment, in my hearing, about the names I chose for my children. I may have avoided this, though, by listening to my grandfather. I was going to call my son Huw at one stage. I liked the name — Pop didn’t. “Don’t call him that,” he said. “Everyone will call to him ‘Hey-you’.”
I listened and did what I was told. I doubt very much that anything further would have been said if I hadn’t listened, although Pop did say to me a few years later, “Aren’t you glad you didn’t call him Huw?”
However, I feel I’ve got the last say — one of the main characters in my (nearly finished) novel is called Huw. And he’s modelled on my son.