You might think this is “The Cat in the Hat,” but around here he’s known as “Ethel.”
But as I was observing Ethel's unfortunate predicament, I was wondering if it’s just my husband and me or if it’s nothing short of a miracle that “failure to agree on a baby name” isn’t cited as a top reason people seek divorce. For us I think it was more stressful than when we were remodeling our first (650 square foot) house while we were also living in it (and using a cardboard box as a table in the bedroom for eating dinner).
My favorite illustration of what it’s like to try to name a baby is from the movie The Sure Thing when John Cusack says (paraphrasing), “Elliott?! We’re not naming him Elliott! Elliott’s a fat kid who eats paste! We’re naming him Nick! Nick’s the kinda guy you can drink a beer with!”
If I had had my way, our boys would have been named “Chad” and “Cole.” If my husband had had his way they would have been named “Marshall” and “Brad.” (a whisper to my husband): That you think “Marshall” is a good name is definitely on the short list of things you really should have disclosed before I agreed to reproduce with you, because (in the words of Dr. Phil) that just might have been a deal breaker.
Here’s how J got his name. We had two girl names that we both liked, but for boy names we spent eight and a half months reading every baby name book, every on-line naming tool, and going through every person in our families and everyone else who's been important to us in our lives. We thought of every literary, sports, and historical figure we liked and ultimately every conversation would go like this:
Me: Oh that’s a cute name.
Husband: Cute???? That’s totally someone who’ll shoot up a 7-11 someday. What about this… this is a good name!
Me: That???? That’s a pudgy, soft, wimp name.
And on it went until two weeks before the big day my husband came home and said, “Do you like J?”
And I said, “I’ve always loved that name!” And so it was. We banned any further discussion of names.
And then the Little One came along.
We picked out a beautiful girl name two weeks into the pregnancy that we both loved (and we still love it and will probably never get to use it… sniff…). And while we were sure we were having a girl (for a variety of reasons), about three months into the pregnancy we picked out a boy name that we both liked “just in case.”
And then he was born. And the midwife said, “Have you chosen a name?”
Husband: Have we?
Me: Yeah… Garrett… Right?
Husband: Oh… a few weeks ago I decided I really don’t like that name anymore.
(Momentary Pause: Is fifteen minutes after a woman just pushed an 8 pound baby through her you-know-what a good time to say this? No! It is not.)
Me: Well… um… Do you think maybe you ought to have mentioned that to me?
He was sorry… he “forgot.”
I told him that if he wanted to change his mind at the last minute he was going to have to be cooperative and agree on a new name quickly, and he agreed to be agreeable. So we called our friends and families to say, “Hello! We have a gorgeous, healthy, nameless baby boy!”
My husband did keep his word and was very easy to get along with in the choosing of an alternate name (and I actually got a name I would have picked over Garrett to begin with, but I’m sure it had been vetoed several months earlier). The only problem was that by the time we settled on it J was firmly attached to “Baby Boy” and refused to call him by his name. Thankfully, he’s over it now.
I’ve promised the kids that as soon as Mama’s no longer responsible for wiping anyone’s butt they can get a pet. And (since it takes two to Tango, as they say) to do my part to be easy-to-get-along-with, I’m open to the possibility that one day I’ll be posting pictures of Marshall the Miniature Poodle or Marshall the Siamese Cat or (please God let it be this) Marshall the Goldfish.