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Sunday, September 7, 2008

Baby Boy, Brother to Alexandra

Britta writes:
I'm so glad you agree that naming a boy is difficult. We have an 17 month old daughter whose name is Alexandra Rose. A lovely name, I think. She is generally called Ally, although I love all of her nickname-potential, including Alex.

So, I'm pregnant with a boy, due at the end of September. While we named Alexandra by 22 weeks, we absolutely cannot decide on a name for this little man. I like Luke. We both like Luke. In fact, if Alexandra was a boy, she would have been Luke. That, my husband says, means we cannot name this baby Luke. Because we already used it. Or because its a second-hand name or something. Whatever - I know - but I'm married to him. What's your opinion on this? (I think if I kicked and screamed, he'd go with Luke, but I would like us to both love our baby's name. Not merely tolerate it!)

He likes Michael Patrick. I hate it. The whole thing. Too Irish. Too boring. Too "Patrick." I like more unique names. My suggestion was Beau. Of course, I've made many suggestions, but my husband is very picky on boy names.

Finally, after some pouting that we'd never name this tyke, my husband suggested John Lawrence. Which I like -I like the nickname Jack. And it's a good, strong name. But again it is sooooo boring. My own name has never been in the top 1000 names and I love my name. My husband's name is James - he is contsantly battling off people calling him 'Jim' and answering for the other 3 James/Jims he works with. I understand boy names sometimes need to be "stronger" and less unique, but JOHN? That must be the lifetime record holding most common name ever. I suggested Peter. No luck. I re-suggested Luke. Nothing. Come on! Those are Bible names. I'm not being crazy, here.

So, please help us! If it helps, the other girl names we agree on (you'll see a trend) are Rebecca and Victoria.

Here is what I think: you should use Luke.

But! I've known other people who consider a name "used up" if it was a finalist for a previous baby, and so I'm not unfamiliar with that concept---and I know what you mean about wanting your husband to be on board with the name, not just giving in. Besides, if my entire advice is "You should use Luke," then this post is over already and I am not ready for that.

For one thing, I want to talk about the name John. Paul, too, says the name John is boring. In fact, he says it is the epitome of boring. I think it SEEMS boring because it is so familiar and because it is used as a stand-in for Man's Name (John Q. Public, John Doe, etc.), but that in actual usage it is a surprisingly satisfying name. I think many names seem exciting during the pregnancy and later seem ordinary (or worse, disappointing in their unusualness: e.g., "I had no idea Landon was so common! I thought we were choosing something unique but we know two other Landons already!"), but that the name John would be the opposite: with time, you would grow more and more surprised by it.

Also, while the name John FEELS common, it is not particularly. Cast your mind around to the children you know. Anyone named John? Many boys named John are named after relatives and called by a different name---and currently, many boys named John are given the name only so they can be called Jack. Actual boys named and called John? Few.

I also like the name Michael. These solid, classic boy names---I know what you mean about them not being very exciting to choose, and they're not very exciting to announce, either. But with time, they sure do sit well.

Would it help if you got to choose the middle name? Many a happy compromise has been reached in this way. Your husband gets the common name he wants, but you get to choose something more unusual for the middle name spot.

In the meantime, let's have a poll. It's in the righthand margin. [poll closed; see below]

[Poll results (207 votes total):
Luke: 154 votes, roughly 74%
John: 43 votes, roughly 21%
Michael: 10 votes, roughly 5%]

[Name update! 10-04-2008 Britta writes:
We went with your advice and welcomed Luke Timothy into our family on October 1. Big Sister Alexandra is learning to say "Luke."]


Giselle said...

I just want to say that "boring" "common" names have an unfair stigma of commonality. I just got my son's pre-school class list...3 Carter's. In a class of 18. THREE Carter's. Not a single John or Michael in there (interestingly, there is a Luke). I'm sure those mom's thought they were being creative and unique...and now they're groaning because their sons are going to be Carter H. and Carter S. and Carter B. all year long.

I think you should go with Luke. I don't understand the "used up" thing unless you actually had a child with that name.

Mairzy said...

Luke is my top choice. But if the two of you aren't both excited about it, then I say go for John, for all the reasons Swistle said. It seems boring and common now, but actually it would stand out more if you called him John instead of Jack. It's hard to go wrong with John.

Frazzled Mom said...

Let me be frank - hey there's another name to consider: Frank. In all seriousness, Frank is one of those names that has gone into hibernation, but has a solid history of use, is undeniably masculine and will serve your child well long-term. Same with Peter. Too bad your husband nixed it. But I got off on a little tangent...

My main point is, your husband's logic behind eliminating Luke makes no sense whatsoever. You didn't eliminate Luke the first time. You just couldn't use it because you had a girl. Now if you were having a second girl and were considering a runner up name for your first girl - THAT would be a different story. I say if the name wasn't good enough for the first girl, it's not good enough for the second girl.

But you're having a boy. Name him Luke. That's your first choice.

Catherine said...

I voted Luke. I think John is good too but I don't see any reason to rule out Luke based on your previous pregnancy. We'll be using our boy name from this pregnancy in the future. I also voted Luke because I like it best with Alexandra / Ally. Luke & Ally. Luke & Alexandra.

Other ideas with a similar feel: Peter, Paul, David, maybe Benjamin? My favorite of this bunch is Peter for some reason -- which, incidentally, is what my parents would have named me if I'd been a boy.

Susan said...

I think you should name him Luke. The name wasn't used with your first pregnancy unless you named your daughter Luke and just aren't telling us. I see it this way: You had the name ready in CASE it turned out to BE Luke, but it wasn't -- it was Alexandra. All this time the name has been waiting for Luke himself. Now he's coming. He just took his time.

Our first baby was a girl, too. We saved our boy name for our boy, who arrived next.

Ruby said...

I think that it's important to choose a name that you're both happy with - not necessarily over the moon, but do you want to look at your son for first few years of his life thinking 'he should have been a Luke'?

I think you should keep offering suggestions to your husband. How about Henry? I must admit that it's a name I really love and have not heard much recently at all.

Simon, Andrew, Stuart, Philip, Edward. All strong male names which seem to fit your naming trend and aren't as popularly used these days as you'd expect.

Karen said...

If you husband isn't keen on "recycling" Luke, could you persuade him with Lucas or Luka but still get to call him Luke? A cheap trick, I know. I also agree with Swistle about calling John John. There's always Jonathan or Johnathan if you want John as a nickname. I think you'll be disappointed with the number of Jacks in your son's peer group.

I like Ruby's suggestions and I might add Adam, Thomas, and Matthew.

Barb @ getupandplay said...

LOVE Luke! Especially with Alexandra! Super cute!

John is my next favorite and although it has been popular over the last century, I agree with Swistle, it's not very popular for babies right now. And it's a very solid, handsome name.

kel said...

I have to say I sympathize with your husband. Benjamin was our boy name, 100%, and after we had a girl I felt like Ben was gone. We were either having the girl, or Ben, and we didn't get Ben. When we had a boy next, my husband wanted to name him Ben and I just couldn't do it.

We named him Luke instead. :)

So of course that's a name I love and I say go for it. But if your husband really feels the way I did, I can't fault him for that and then I like John best of the next choices.

Also, we didn't know any Lukes when we named ours last year, and now we know FOUR. It's gaining popularity around here all of a sudden. I don't know if it's like that all over the country, but it's something to take into consideration. I think John is less trendy right now.

Lara Jane said...

I voted Luke simply because it's your favorite and you should stick with it.

I do like John better than Michael. I greatly dislike the nickname "Mike" and with John you have no worries. And I'm with the majority that John should be called John. Jack is one of those too-popular names right now, and though John is ultra-common, it's one of those classics that can never be called trendy.

I'd also like to throw out the suggestion of Nathaniel. It's similar in style and nickname-ability to Alexandra.

Clarabella said...

I don't know if this is just a Southern thing, since I've lived no where else, but I hear a lot of Johns down here called by a double-name. Like "John Michael" or "John Cooper" or something. So, if it doesn't sound weird or ridiculous or pretentious to you, that's always an option. In fact, I think both "John Michael" and "John Luke" work well. In fact, I would say John Luke might be a nice compromise with your husband. Alexandra and John Luke. Think that sounds nice and classic.

Nicole said...

Oh, I like Clarabella's suggestion! I have an admitted fondness for double names. I do agree that they sometimes have a Southern feeling to them, but I have a cousin John Mark from Orange County, CA, so I think it can work anywhere.

Pocket said...

My Grandfather was John and was called Jack. My father is John Michael and is called Mike. My brother is John and he's called...John. And I love it. However, when he was born, my stepmother was adament about calling him John, not Johnny or Jonathon. Now that he's older, he has a very strong name that worked well all throughout his life. I love the name John....

but I voted for Luke! Your husband is crazy. Like John, it's good for a little boy and a grown man. It's strong, yet simple. You should totally use it.

Karen said...

I've rethought my suggestions. We haven't really dealt with your need for something that isn't boring. But, clearly, your husband is not going for something that isn't quite familiar. So maybe you can find something pretty familiar for your husband but a little softer around the edges than Patrick or John for you. These come to mind:

Ian, Noah, Sean/Shawn, Graham/Graeme, Simon, Aaron, Ethan

Or softer names with nickname potential, which you enjoy.
Christian, Mitchell, William, Nicolas, Benjamin, Samuel, Matthew, Charles, Anthony

Unfortunately Alexander is out.

Good luck!

Blueberry said...

our first child was going to be Harrison if it was a boy, BUT she was a girl. our second baby was a boy but i just didn't really like the name Harrison any more. as a matter of fact, i didn't seem to like ANY of the names we considered the first time around. i needed a whole new list. so i guess i can see where your husband is coming from.

both Luke and John are great names. but i do know what you mean about a name feeling boring- that is one reason i think boys are hard to name!

oh, our little boy ended up being Chase... maybe that is a name you and your husband could consider?

Clare said...

My name is actually the name my parents had saved up for my brother and I don' mind that they 'recycled' the name at all, in fact I think it makes me like the name a bit better because it shows how much my parents loved my name and wanted to use it for their child.

Bethtastic said...

I'm with Clare. I have two older brothers and BOTH of them would have been Beth. And I also think it makes my name even more meaningful. My parents had always loved Beth and kept it until I arrived!

That being said, I voted for Luke. I also like John and Michael, and for as "ordinary" as they are, in my 13 years of teaching, I have never had two Michaels or two Johns in one room, and in fact I have only had 3 or 4 total of either name - so 'common' doesn't equal 'well-known'.

Name him what you love!

Frema said...

My daughter is Kara, and if she would have been a boy, she would have been Nathan. We are pregnant with baby number two, I originally vetoed Nathan for the same reason--it felt like Kara's name. However, my husband and I cannot agree on another name, so now I'm OK with using Nathan. However, I'm glad we went through the selection process again, just to be sure.

Also? My husband's name is Luke. It really is a great name! Too bad he doesn't want a junior.

-R- said...

I don't think using Luke is recycling. It's a name you both liked, so I think you should use it.

However, I also love all of Ruby's suggestions, and I think Karen has some good suggestions too.

ZestyJenny said...

What about using John but spelling it Jon? I don't think that counts as a funky spelling, just different. The one Jon I know in real life is a J-O-N Jon, and of course there's Jon Stewart.

I voted for John/Jon.

Britta said...

Ladies, Thanks for all your input. I believe I've very close to getting husband to come back around to LUKE. It's the only name we both love. Maybe I should start monogramming!