Baby Names and Nicknames (or how Jack became Jock)

inanameYesterday at Max London's, over a brunch of breakfast pizza and polenta fries, a friend and I were discussing baby names. Neither of us is pregnant at the moment, but it's just a topic of conversation that tends to come up when two moms are chatting. Some people have baby names picked out WAY in advance. Everyone had that friend growing up who had her boy name and girl name all picked out by third grade, or maybe you were that friend. Some people, like myself, have a really hard time settling on a name. Because when you think about it, it's such a daunting task. Here you get to choose what people will call this child, this person, for presumably the rest of their lives. Sure, they can change it if they really want to, but they are subject to using that name for at least most of their childhood years no matter what.

Growing up a "Jennifer" in the 80's wasn't exactly a unique or singular experience, because there were about thirty other Jennifers in my small school alone. At some point before I can remember I was dubbed "Jenny" as a nickname and it stuck. All through middle school I was Jenny. I tried really hard to get people to call me "Jenn" or "Jennifer" in high school and in college but it just never worked. Mainly because I would forget I was trying to change my nickname and would introduce myself as Jenny. And now, as a 35 year old Jenny, I am resigned to it. I'm not a huge fan of "Jenny", but it is me, and it is my name. And to be honest with you it would be super weird if someone called me Jenn or Jennifer on a regular basis at this point.

One of the first things you need to think about when choosing a name is the monogram. Especially if you're like me and tend to monogram things (a lot). I liked the boy name Oliver (nickname Ollie) when I was pregnant with Jack, but Oliver does not go with O'Keefe. How would OOK look like as a monogram? No.

My other piece of advice is to not share your baby name ideas with anyone besides your significant other, because sometimes people can just be flat out rude and spoil the name for you. This happened to me on a few occasions where I shared my name ideas and they were shot down, sort of souring them for me. If you wait to unveil the name until after the baby is born hopefully your friends and family know better than to pass judgment at that point (or will at least do it behind your back only).

Another little known practice in baby name etiquette is doing the polite "ask" if you already have a friend who has named their baby the same name. Or just giving them a heads up that you're going with their choice. This isn't a required gesture by any means, but it's just sort of nice to let them know ahead of time. Jack is not a common name at all, but before he was born I felt compelled to let my friend Jenn know I was also going with the classic boy's name that she chose for her son.

Another thing to consider is the nickname. Don't choose a name if you don't like the nickname because someone, SOMEWHERE, at some point in your child's life WILL CALL THEM THAT. I was very close to being called Magdalena (wouldn't that have been weird?) but my father hated the nickname "Maggie" so that was nixed. When choosing the kids' names I was very aware of what the nicknames might be. Finnegan became Finn as I planned, and Leven is usually Levy but is also Lev, also according to plan. But then came Jack. Jack is already technically a nickname for John (which is weird) so there really isn't a Jack "nickname", besides maybe Jackie, which I am not a fan of. So as a joke I started calling him "Jacques" or "Jacques-y" which then turned into Jockey and Jock, so now he's my little Jockey, which I guess is fitting in our horse town. So if you see us out and about and I am calling for Jock, you'll know why.