Naming Committee

27 May

“How about this, are you ready?  ‘Larry, Darryl and Darryl’!”

…and variations thereof.  So goes a boilerplate conversation I inevitably have with someone, somewhere nearly every day.

Horace? Mortimer? Floyd?

But, for Carey and I, it’s serious business.  After all the screwball suggestions, at the end of the day, we always have to return to the drawing board and get serious:  these people need to be called something.

You probably picked up from the previous entry that we’re not saying anything about names we’re considering.  To be honest, we’ve really not even said much about names we’re not considering.  Multiple reasons for this, but, to cut to the chase: we’re more or less assuming that people aren’t going to like what we come up with and we’d just as soon not give the h8ers a chance to h8.

Corbin? Cecil? Phillipe?

Everyone thinks, Oh, you’ve gotta do a theme.  Make ’em all rhyme or start with the same letter or spell something sweet when you put ’em together!  Or name them after something crazy, like Donald Duck’s nephews!  But it should be funny!  MAKE SURE IT’S FUNNY.

I’m not sure what it is about triplets, but everyone thinks their names need to be hilarious for some reason.  “Little men, your very existence is absurd and you shall be named accordingly.”

Another comment I hear a lot: “you’re probably so tired of getting suggestions from everyone.”  Not at all.  But there are ways to suggest and ways not to suggest.

Here’s a helpful guide:

“You know what I thought would be great for one of your boys? ‘Smeagol’. I just love the sound of it!”
This is nice because giving us a single suggestion shows you’re thinking of our boys as individuals, which is what we’re trying our best to do. We likely won’t wind up using ‘Smeagol’, but it’s good of you to think of it.

“How about Everett, Pete and Delmar, like from that Coen Brothers movie? You’re a Coen fan, aren’t you?”
Huge Coen fan! Carey and I have decided to stay away from theme-ing our kids in any way, but it’s a very sweet suggestion. You’re thinking of our children as a part of us, influenced by our likes and interests. And who knows? Maybe we’ll end up using Delmar for someone or a middle name, you never know.

“You two are creative, you shouldn’t feel afraid to have kids with creative names.”
Thank you! It’s refreshing to talk to someone who actually has faith in our ability to be unique without being damaging. You’d be surprised how many well-meaning people are hoping to “save” our kids from our arty-fartyness.

“Whatever you do, don’t name them something strange, like Garguax.”
Please don’t do this. Believe it or not, not once but twice we’ve had this said to us and the name given as an example was a name on our list of serious considerations. (And in one of those cases, it was the name of someone we know and respect who we were considering naming one of the boys after, which makes it a doubly shitty thing to hear.)

“I knew a guy named Jojoba and he’s a total douchebag. For my sake, don’t name any of them Jojoba.”
Believe it or not, Carey and I know scores of jerks who have forever ruined perfectly good names for us. Do us a favor and don’t add to the list. In fact, all name suggestions that start with “don’t”? Maybe just keep them to yourself.

“Promise me you’ll–“
Whup, stop right there. If we’re talking names, there’s no possible way for that statement to end well.

“Make sure any name you come up with can’t be twisted into something gross or vulgar by kids at school.”
Fun fact: KIDS CAN TWIST ANY NAME IN EXISTENCE INTO SOMETHING GROSS AND VULGAR. They carry teeny tiny Name Distortion PhDs in their wee wallets.

It’s made us think a lot about our personal style, though.  What sorts of names are us?  It helped to start to figure out the sorts of things we didn’t want and work from there:

Trendy Names
(Aiden, Lucas, Gavin, Dylan, Connor)
Don’t get me wrong, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with any of these.  In fact, don’t take my word for it, just ask millions of American kids born in the last several years.  It’s great to have a popular name.  But, for us, if it shows up on a Top 20 Baby Name list anywhere, executive decision, we’re taking a pass.  (True story, when we thought we might have a girl or two in the mix, I fought for “Abigail”, after the Magnetic Fields song.  Carey wasn’t hip and she finally pulled the trump card: an online baby list of popular names in 2011.  Number 8: Abigail.  I conceded defeat.)

Biblical Names
(Noah, Elijah, Caleb, Benjamin, Ethan)
Certain Bible names rise and fall in popularity, but Bible names as an institution will never go out of style.  I’m not sure what it is, but I could never picture myself saddling my offspring with anything out of Scripture (even though, it’s true, my own first and middle names are biblical).  I can’t really give you a good reason, it just appeals to me about as much as giving them a Muslim name or a Buddhist name.

Names That Aren’t Names
(Silvery Blu, Apple, Surprise, Marshmallow Courage)
Probably self-explanatory here, but there’s a part of me that kind of applauds a parent who’s willing to name their kid something on the outrageous side.  I mean, really, what’s so much more masculine and inspiring about an “Aiden” than an “Apple” anyhow?  But, questions of adding to a child’s tribulations aside, it’s just not us to goof out like that.

We don’t like rhyme-y names and we’re skeptical about alliteration.  We’re definitely not doing a theme and there’s no way in hell we’re going to try to get cute or funny.

Schroeder? Vladimir? Spock?

So what’s left?

Well, we do like old names, classic names.  Artists or authors or fictional characters that have inspired us, we’re into that.  Song titles or evolved versions of something nearly forgotten… there’s sort of a romance there.  Historical activists or places we’ve never been, all fair game.  Also, while we’re dreaming, I think we’re into the idea of not picking a name that’s typically tied to a specific ethnicity.

Me, I made a decision early on, which has frustrated Carey a little, but I can’t help it.  It has to mean something to me personally.  There has to be a certain serendipity to a name, a connection to something that’s meant a great deal to me at one point or another.  It’s not enough for it to just sound good.  I need to anchor myself to it.

I know, I know.  Yeesh.

Carey, admittedly, is content with something that has a nice ring to it.  But don’t be fooled, she’s not so easy to please either.  We’ve got three firsts and three middles to come up with and it’s been a struggle.  We’ve honed in on a few candidates that we’re very fond of, but we’re letting it marinate a little.

But we also laid down the rule early on: either one of us has 100% veto power over any suggestion.  Translation: if we’re not both completely in love with it, it’s out.

All that’s to say, maniacal standards aside, we genuinely are happy to hear suggestions.  We’ve got a lot of people to name, after all, and absolutely nothing’s set in stone as far as we’re concerned.  And you can see why.

So, lay ’em on us, people.  We don’t have all summer, here.

26 Responses to “Naming Committee”

  1. Sarah May 27, 2011 at 10:30 pm #

    Okay… since you asked… 🙂 I think if I were you, one thing I’d do is dig thru some family records and see if there are any distant relatives with cool names. Sometimes even a name that starts out sounding “strange” will grow on you if you find out there’s an interesting story that goes along with it. Family names are great “anchors.”

    You sound resolved on Biblical names, but let me just mention that there are a ton of names in the Bible that most of us have never heard of and might be fun to use. They don’t all have to be as obvious as “Jeremiah.” 😉

    One last thought… historically, names have always “meant” something. If you ask anyone up until about a generation above us, they could tell you what their name “means”. I’ve always found great comfort knowing that my name has meant the same thing to countless women for thousands of years. Sometimes I think we do the next generation a disservice by putting a collection of letters together and calling it a “name.”

    • Danielle May 27, 2011 at 11:06 pm #

      Well I am laughing at this because I don’t know if I have been on the appropriate or inappropriate side of the issue…you’ll have to ask Carey about that one. I have confidence that you two will come up with three great names. And the truth is people will have to call them by these names like it or not;)

      As for my own thoughts on names, I always wished my name meant something light and fun like “princess” or “starlight” But nope Danielle means “Judged by God”. I mean we all are judged by God, but for some reason it freaks me out a little for my name to mean this! My mom said she didn’t know what my name meant, but rather she had names that could work for either gender. On the other hand I have always loved that my middle name was for a great- grandma. So I guess naming the boys after something that is special to you will make any name you chose great! Good luck and I can’t wait to find out what you two come up with!!

  2. Katie May 27, 2011 at 11:58 pm #

    I am not sure if I’ve commented here before. My name is saved so I’m thinking maybe I have. I’ve enjoyed reading your blog. Thanks for sharing!

    I think you guys are totally going about it the right way. It’s not an easy task to come up with a name for one baby, let alone three at once! And I applaud you for keeping it all to yourselves until you’re ready to reveal them. We discussed our last one’s name with several people and got everybody’s unnecessary opinions on it – good and bad. It certainly would have been easier to keep it under wraps.

    I agree with a commenter above that it’s been really important to me that my name meant something. I was named after my great grandmother and my mother. My brother is a third, after my dad and grandpa – and that’s meant alot to him.

    My only advice is this – whatever you do for one, do it for all. It would have been awful for my brother to have been named after family and me not have been. Also, my step-daughter’s name was one that “just sounded good” to them when they named her. She’s the only one of our kids who is not named after family and she’s mentioned it a time or two. I don’t think it would even be an issue if none of the kids were named after anybody.

    Congrats on the babies!

  3. Carrie May 28, 2011 at 3:08 am #

    As inconvenient as it may be to have your boys’ names mean something to you, I think it’s a great idea. The only criteria my parents had for picking names for me and my sister was that my dad was adamant about their not being shortened. This is why I’m not a Carolyn or a Caroline. I always sort of wished there was more to my name than that it was concise. (My mom did get a few questions about whether I was named after Carrie Nation. I’m not sure how I’d feel about that. She was an activist after all, but acted against alcohol. Using a hatchet…)
    One thing I think is important to consider is whether most people are going to know how to pronounce your kids’ names on sight. Having to correct people all the time is going to get old really fast–for you and for them. Take for example my friend Raechelle. Seems like that’d be pronounced “Ray-SHELL”, right? Nope, it is pronounced just like the traditional “Rachel”–just with extra letters to make sure no one ever gets it right.

  4. amanda May 28, 2011 at 6:51 am #

    Is it wrong to suggest Hewey, Dewey, & Louie? 🙂 I’m kidding. They’re your kids. You’re the parents. With that comes the singular joy of being able to name them. Whatever you want. Whether it ryhmes or doesn’t, whether it’s trendy or not, and whether or not anyone other than you likes it. It’s all you. People like to give input, but the way we figured it, unless they were gonna be footing the bill for them, their opinion didn’t weigh all the heavily. Word of caution: you’ll be saying the names A LOT with the word, “No” once they reach toddlerhood. So when you finalize, try it out with “No” tacked onto it just to make sure it has a nice ring. 😉

  5. lenarivers May 28, 2011 at 7:45 am #

    I like the name Oliver. It’s fun to say Ollie, and easy for children to pronounce, too.

    ‘Course, the downside of that name is that you may feel compelled to say, “Please, sir. I want some more,” to him whenever you see him, so… Shoot! I just killed my own idea! :o(

    • pam May 28, 2011 at 10:11 am #

      Oh yeah, I totally vote for Oliver. I always said we’d never call him Ollie, but can’t help it!

  6. pam May 28, 2011 at 9:55 am #

    Before we named the boys (took a day or so after they were born) the NICU doc called them Larry, Curly & Moe. Har har.

    Anyway, sounds like we had similar criteria for naming. I am confident you’ll come up.with some cool ones.

  7. Christina May 28, 2011 at 1:46 pm #

    I’ve been lurking on your blog for a few weeks and have laughed my head off every time I read your posts. You are hilarious, Jeremy! Well we made a lengthy list of names we thought were interesting but werent absolutely in love with any of them – check out blogs like ” you cant call it it” with good links to historical names etc. The babes were nameless for the first five days of life and we finally buckled down when the birth name clerk said she was leaving for the day and we had to make a decision in a half-hour or be forced to submit our paperwork after we were discharged from the hospital. By the time I got out of the shower we had made our decision. We wanted to honor Ivan’s heritage with their middle names and our mothers for their second middle names using family names and LOVE how it all worked out- their names fit them perfectly. All that to say, it’s a long process and you may not really know for sure until you see them. Our girl’s name is pretty unusual and was used briefly in the 1800’s I think, and our son’s name has a lot of flexibility with variations if he so chooses, which I love.

  8. Jessica and Jerry Renshaw May 28, 2011 at 8:32 pm #

    My brother and his wife went through all the baby books to be sure names they were considering WEREN’T in them. He named their daughter–Laria, which I love. She named their son. She was going through the Vs in the last days of the second pregnancy. One day it was Vorn (which sounded like one of the villains in my brother’s science fiction stories) and the next day it was Vyron–and that’s the day he landed on. . . How many times will he hear people ask, “Did you say BYron?” How many times will kids call him Virus? Oh, well.

    No matter what you name them, they’ll be given or will choose their own nicknames. C(live)S(taples) Lewis, from the age of 3 or 4 until the day of his death, wouldn’t answer to anything but Jack, after a dog he’d loved.

    I tell my kids, “You name ’em. We’ll love ’em.”

  9. Matt Wilcoxen May 28, 2011 at 9:32 pm #

    Ok, I’ve got just a couple of possibilities. They aren’t really suggestions, just the only names Annie and I could come up with given your stringent criteria.






    Wolfhart/Wolfgang (but then we realized Wolf…Bear probably doesn’t work)

    Jean (ie, French version of “John”)



    I could keep going, but I won’t

  10. Magi Hemphill May 28, 2011 at 10:21 pm #

    Love reading your blog, Jeremy!
    My only suggestion is to pay attention to what their initials will be.
    I wanted to name my youngest Alison Stephanie (her dad is Stephen), but my neighbor said, “NO! Because if she marries someone with the last name initial of S, her initials will be ASS!” …so, Alison Kathleen it is!

  11. Julia May 29, 2011 at 10:20 am #

    Theodore is cute, and so is Theo if you wanted to shorten it.

  12. Matt Wilcoxen May 29, 2011 at 12:38 pm #

    Ok, so I thought of some more names. This is so fun, I almost wish I was having triplets.










  13. Jon May 29, 2011 at 1:35 pm #

    Tread lightly, Jeaoure…

    Boys With Unpopular Names More Likely to Break Law

  14. Bob W. May 29, 2011 at 3:18 pm #

    OK, how about Polar, Grizzly and Panda? What, Heard it before? Too “themey”? Alright then.

  15. Caitlin May 29, 2011 at 7:11 pm #

    Hello! I’m new to your blog… but I’ve been keeping a list of baby names for years now (and am still probably years away from even thinking about getting pregnant), so I figured I’d share some of my faves. I really like Mylo (I can’t use it because my last name is now Dick, so it’s all yours), Forrest (also can’t use this one because of the Dick issue), Elijah (Eli for short), Luca, Micah, Hayden, Judah/Jude (looove this one, and it comes with a beatles music connection), Sebastian (another music connection if you like Belle and Sebastian), Ezra, Peter, and Oliver. Anyways, I’m sure you’ll both settle on great names… good luck!!

  16. T & C Burns May 29, 2011 at 8:32 pm #

    so, you’ve settled on three names (at least at some point you will), how do you pin them on the three offspring once they… emerge? Is it a “first, second, third?” Do you “Get to know them a little” first? Flip a coin? How is this done?

  17. Becky May 30, 2011 at 3:19 am #

    I have all the faith in the world that you will choose perfect names for your sons and I can’t wait to learn who they are. Remember the name becomes the person not the other way around. That is usually why you “love” or “hate” a name. These perfect human beings will bring grace to the names that you have chosen.

  18. Valerie May 30, 2011 at 5:07 am #

    I love that you’re not picking matchy names. Enjoy the name suggestions from people. We got so many bad ones. I wish I’d kept a record of them to show my kids when they get older. It was amazing what people came up with as serious suggestions. It was also fun to hear the names of other twin sets people know. I would hate to be half of the Tracey Stacey, Don Dan, or Mali (said like Molly) Liam pair. Do you see how obnoxiously creative those last parents are? I agree that you need to pay attention to initials. With one combination we were initially looking at, my kiddos would have been INR EAR. I don’t think they would have appreciated being the inner ear twins the rest of their lives.

  19. Randy Bear May 30, 2011 at 4:38 pm #

    What’s in a name? While everyone wants to come up with a great-sounding and unique name that makes people go “Awww, that’s a really nice name… I love it,” the truth of the matter is that these boys (and later men) will be known by who they are and what they become rather than this or that name that is given them.
    I’m proud to say that I picked out your name and thought it was classy, dignified, and stood for something, and in actuality you are the one that has made your name mean something… not myself or your mother. Yes, these boys will be known for what they become rather than any sort of catchy or trendy name.
    I’m thinking of such boring every day names like Ted Williams, or Michael Jordan, or Willie Mays, or Thomas Jefferson, or Jerry Rice… or Billy Graham. Not too flashy by any standard, but their lives and their accomplishments were beyond flashy and noteworthy.
    Then there’s people like Tiger Woods; known for what he’s done rather than his catchy name for sure. And there’s always Chad Ochocinco. He felt he needed to change his to something really flashy to be noticed or remembered… and of course he was wrong.
    And finally, there’s the name Jeremy Bear. A name that will be fondly esteemed in these boys lives forever by the man and father that their dad is to them.
    And no matter their names, this grandpa will love them to pieces.
    (still like Shadrach, Meshach, and Doug :))

  20. Newlyweds Next Door May 31, 2011 at 12:51 pm #

    I loved your to-do and not to-do list.

    I enjoyed this recent Nameberry article about potential emerging trends:

    I love literary names! Some of my favorites: Atticus, Holden, Sawyer…

  21. Stephanie June 2, 2011 at 5:19 am #

    With your newest post, I’m sure this issue has gone on the back-burner but I wanted to comment anyway. We didn’t tell our twins names before they were born and got TONS of theme-name suggestions. My mom actually suggested Harmony and Melody. Which is wrong for two reasons (at least) but our last name is Harmon. Harmony Harmon? I don’t think so.

    I am hoping for a good outcome for all the little Bears and your wife. I hope that your doctors and hospital can come up with a plan to keep the babies safe for a little longer. Crossing my fingers and toes…

  22. kim June 2, 2011 at 5:22 pm #

    my only true requirement was that the names not turn into a y name….as in andrew to andy.aaron and evan turned out just fine….sadly amanda is now mandi amongst her high school friends,lol…..go figure in all the planning!all family calls her amanda,however. my favorite boy names that cant be changed easily are braden,jack,brennan,evan,aaron,mark,jarod,justin,carson,geoff,heath, or christopher.

  23. Sharon June 4, 2011 at 12:14 pm #

    Following up on Sarah’s comment about “family names” I searched through your Bear family’s lineage for male first names. Here are a few:
    Tobias (and the rest are pretty common Warren, Bill, Edward, etc.)
    But some interesting last names appear, which could be avante gard for first names:
    Penn, Benson, Kennedy, O’Keefe, Carter, Bond, Huxley, Wentworth and …. ta da.. CHAUCER. (Then again after 700 years, think it’s a bit dated?) 😉
    Some Places of your ancestors who could pronounce? – like in Wales, Olde England, France and Germany. Cambridgeshire is a mouthful…..
    But being YOUR children, your names will be perfect for each of them.

  24. Andy Kerr June 5, 2011 at 8:11 pm #

    Just curious if you ever did name them?

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