Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Substitute Diaries - What's That Name Again?

I have found that one of the most interesting and frustrating parts of working in the school system is learning the names that are in vogue at the moment.

I will preface this post by telling you right up front that I am not a fan of unusual names. Honestly, I don't get the fascination with giving your kid a name that no one will ever pronounce or spell correctly. My mother named me Vicki. No, not Victoria, just Vicki. Vicki is one of those names that is often misspelled. I often get Vickie or Vicki. In high school I had a teacher who insisted it should be spelled Vikki. And I have family members who still don't get it right to this day. But, no matter how it's spelled, the pronunciation is never an issue.

When our first child was a girl, we were shocked and unprepared with a name. We had a boy's name picked out before we even got married. The hospital staff insisted that we give her a name before we were discharged. So after hours and hours of deliberation we named our daughter Kathryn Anne, always intending to call her Katy. I will confess that I wanted to name her Katy Scarlett, but my husband was having none of that. He insisted on formal names rather than nicknames.

Then when we had our second child, we still had our boy's name in reserve, but we had decided if it was a girl she would be named Emily Marie. I named him right there in the delivery room, Nicholas Patrick. When he was about 9, he came home from school one day and told me, "Mom, everyone else calls me Nick." From that day on he's been Nick.

Years later, when I told someone our children were named Nicholas and Kathryn, they asked me if I had an obsession with Russian aristocracy. Honestly, that had never occured to me.

Since I've been working in the schools, I have seen a lot of names that I've never seen before.

I've had both an Aubrey and an Aubryna in the same class. I've also had Kristin and Kiersten in the same classrom.  I've had Riley, Rylee, and Brylee, some of those are boys and some of them are girls. Then there are Isaiah and Izaiha. There are Amia, Amaya, and Ayana. Also Desiree, Desarae, and Dezirae. Madison and Madisyn. Destinee and Destiny. Kamden and Camden. Tiffany and Tiffinee. Kaylee, Caylee, and Kailey. Baylee, Baleigh, and Bailey. Carly and Karlee. Cameron, Kamryn, and Camryn. Jonathon, Johnathon, and Jonathen.

Among the unusual names are Wilmer, Seidi (pronounced Sadie), and Anazaria.We've also got River and Rain who are siblings.

I'm never quite sure what parents are trying to accomplish by giving their children unusual names. A name is not what makes a child stand out. But, hey, it's a free country. Name your kid whatever you want. But, if you choose to give them an unusual or oddly spelled name, don't expect everyone to be able to pronounce it or spell it correctly. You'll need to prepare your child to cope with that. And, please, above all else, teach them to be polite about correcting people who get it wrong, especially adults. I've actually had first graders roll their eyes at me when I mispronounced their name while checking attendance.


  1. I have to say that Kathryn is not a lot easier when it comes to the spelling and I can say that because my first name is Kathryn -- spelled that way and almost no one ever gets it right! But you are very right about giving some thought to what you name your child and what it will do to them for the rest of their lives! I "had" some friends who named their first born son Steeler after their favorite football team. Really? I can't imagine what he went through in elementary school.
    The Soph derivatives are the trend and Amara's school right now, at least in her grade. She has a friend Sophie, one named Sophia and pronounced the normal way and another name Sophia but it is pronounced So-fey-a. You gotta wonder! Good post!

    1. Yes, a couple of years ago, Katy asked me why I spelled it that way. I really just liked the way it looks better than the other spellings. And, I'm pretty sure we're going to get a Sophia if Nick and Marie eventually have a girl.

  2. LOL I loved it! Very true! Especially interesting to someone like me who grew up in Catholic schools where everyone was simply named for a saint. I did the same for my daughters: Mary, Christine, and Karen Anne. I have never regretted it and they've never complained.
    As for the others, like you said, name your kids whatever you want, but don't spring an attitude when no one can pronounce or spell it and you get weary of correcting them!