"The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera." - Dorothea Lange

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

what's in a name?

Clara, now 6 weeks

The five most popular girl names in 2012 were: Sophia, Emma, Olivia, Isabella and Ava. The most popular boy names were: Aiden, Jackson, Ethan, Liam and Mason. I know this because I studied the lists while Abbie was pregnant, and besides, I happen to be interested in the whole name thing.

Abbie and Sam did not learn the sex of either baby until the moment the children emerged (Henry into air, Clara into water) AND they carefully guarded their list of possible names. So on both birthdays, Eddie and I got to experience two great surprises! I liked it that way. I don’t really understand the introduction of babies via sonogram on Facebook: We are thrilled for you to meet our baby boy Lucas, who will be born in twenty weeks. Isn’t he adorable??!

It’s not uncommon these days for the expectant couple to reveal the sex of their baby at the baby shower. Here’s how it’s done. The couple goes in for the 20-week sonogram. The technician writes down the sex of the baby on a piece of paper, then seals the paper in an envelope. The couple takes the envelope to their local bakery. The cake baker opens the envelope and then bakes a cake with either a pink or blue center. (Yes, the lady at the cake counter at Price Chopper finds out even before the expectant parents do.) At the baby shower, the cake is sliced and VOILA! Everyone, the couple included, gets the happy news that IT’S A BOY! or IT’S A GIRL!

(My friend Kate, over at Eat the Damn Cake, wrote a wonderful piece about the day she and her husband decided to look at the note that was in the envelope. It’s a very sweet and funny account of their experience. You can read it here.)

At any rate, these “gender cake parties” may have to take a back seat to a new trend in the “gender reveal” world. And folks, I am not making this stuff up. Here’s how this particular soiree unfolds: The couple hires a company that will do the sonogram at home. The shower begins. The living room looks like it always did, except that there is a curtain drawn around some rather large equipment and a table in the corner of the room. There is also a big video monitor. Midway through the party, the pregnant person excuses herself and proceeds toward the table and a smiling technician. Behind the curtain they go. The partner of the pregnant person gets the TV fired up and asks the guests to turn their attention to the screen. I think you can figure out the rest.

Of course, once the sex is known, a name selection isn’t too far behind (though I can imagine the pregnant couple has a stash of both “Michael” and “Michaela” party favors at the ready during these “gender reveal parties."). Choosing a name for one’s child is a big deal, and one can only hope the child will eventually agree that it was a good idea. (I can speak from experience on this topic; my son changed his when he was five. You can read about that here.)

A lot of the names being chosen these days are colorful, charismatic and unusual, much like those being given to Hollywood celebrities’ wee ones. If you want to give your kid a really exotic name in 2013 – one no one in her class will have – I would suggest naming her Sarah or Jennifer or Mary or Ann!

I love the names that were given to my grandkids: Henry and Clara. (Of course, I would love these two children even if I did not like their names.) But I think their names are perfect.

Abbie knows I get a kick out of seeing the latest trends in baby names, so this morning she sent me the list of Henry’s pre-preschool classmates (he will begin attending “school” two mornings a week this fall): Julien, Jude, Rosalie, Jubilee and Maple.

Recently a friend of mine became the grandmother to a Penelope. Other names that are growing in popularity are: Scarlett, Harper, Aubrey, Ivy, Harlow and Clover for girls; Brantley, Declan, Grayson, Kayson, Kingston and Archer for boys.

If you’re interested in the history and popularity of your own name, check out one of my fave sites: Baby Name Wizard. Using the baby voyager tool, you can track any name’s usage from the 1880’s til now. Henry, for example, was the 8th most popular name in the 1880’s, dropped to 134th in the 1980’s and is now very much on the rise again. 

Gloria, on the other hand, was ranked 0 in the 1890’s and is ranked 571st in 2011. My close friend Cheryl is ranked 0 in 2013. Now there are a couple unique names to use! 


Anonymous said...

I am telling you, without a doubt, someone, or maybe some three, four or one hundred soon to give birth mothers and fathers who read your blog will think to themselves, hmmm... Gloria, Cheryl. A trend will begin...without a doubt, I am telling you.

Anonymous said...

aww, loved it. thanks for the shout-out! clara is gorgeous! - kate

Anonymous said...

She's a cutie!
- Susan

Cheryl Hanna-Truscott said...

I'm a Cheryl. :-) The only problem I had growing up was all the different ways people decided it had to be spelled. This was a fun post to read.

Anonymous said...

Great post. "Dawn" has always seemed an odd name to me and for me. No surprise, its popularity peaked in the 1960s (I was born in '66), and is nonexistent before 1910 and ranked "0" after 2003!

Anonymous said...

Dawn, Suzanne has almost the same popularity as your name, but Frances, my first name peaked in the 1900's - very cool. Hope you are well