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Saturday, January 12, 2013

Baby Twin Boys Mattke: Milo and Oliver?

Nicole writes:
We are expecting twin boys (our first children) in early May!  We are very excited, but are having some problems with choosing names.  My name is Nicole, my husband is Sam, and our last name is Mattke (pronounced Matt-key).  Almost all of my favorite names are for girls, so that's one of the issues that's made naming twin boys difficult.  I'm looking for names that sound good together and maybe some that are linked somehow, but NOT "twinny" names (ie Jaden and Jalen-- ugh!). 

My husband and I don't have the same naming taste AT ALL, so I was shocked when we agreed on a pair of names we both were happy with: Milo and Oliver.  I liked how one ended with an "o" and one started with an "o", and we were thinking of having both of them paired with "s" middle names: Milo Samuel (after my husband) and Oliver Scott (after my dad), thinking that Milo would be the first baby to be born since he'd be his father's namesake, and we'd refer to the twins as "Milo and Oliver".  Well, our first mistake was telling these name ideas to my very vocal and opinionated family.  Not a single person has liked the name "Milo", making me concerned that we are the only ones who will like his name and he will go through life disappointed or frustrated with it.  (I have a brother named Torry who detests his name and don't want my sons to feel that way, if we can help it!)  Also, nearly everyone has said, "Oh, like Milo and Otis?" from the movie from the 80's about a dog and a cat.  Do you think this will come up throughout their lives?  Would it help enough if we switched the birth order, so that Oliver is the one born first and we call them "Oliver and Milo" instead?

I'm not sure if no one being thrilled about those names has tainted them too much for me to use or not.  Maybe you could suggest another pairing of names that we'd like better?

Other names I've liked are:

Finn- my very favorite boy name, but I found out a close friend (who isn't pregnant yet) wants to use it if they have a boy because her husband's middle name is Finley-- so sad for me because this is the name I loved most
Luca- love it but not sure if it sounds too bad with our last name; very Italian with a German surname that doesn't seem to flow very well?
Jack- too popular
Henry- too popular
Charlie- too plain
Graeme- husband doesn't like it, rhymes with Sam so don't think I'd want Graeme and Sam
Malakai (Kai)- our friends just used it

It's just hard for me to love boy names!

For girls, I love

Please help-- picking names for twin boys is much harder than I expected!

Thank you!

My very first suggestion is one you've already thought of: say "Oliver and Milo" instead of "Milo and Oliver"---at least at first, until people get used to the names. I think that might nip the problem in the bud entirely. I also like the way that name order emphasizes the way one boy's name starts with Oli- and the other boy's name ends with -ilo.

But if the question continues to crop up, the answer to "Oh, like Milo and Otis?" is "...No." Slight pause, slightly confused/amused expression, and then a mild "No." The tone should reflect the slight amusement you might feel when contemplating that anyone might actually name twins after two animal characters in a children's movie, combined with the slight confusion you feel that someone is asking you if this is something YOU did. Especially since one of the names has nothing in common with the movie name other than starting with the same letter, and that letter isn't even pronounced the same in both names---so if you HAD wanted to name them after the cat and dog, you would not have succeeded.

You could make the difference even greater by naming them Miles and Oliver---but I'd be disappointed to lose the O theme. Or you could change to Leo and Oliver, or Theo and Oliver. I suspect, however, that the question will die down very quickly: it's the kind of question that gets asked upon first introduction, but not again after that. And even if the Milo & O____ format makes people think of the movie, it isn't a negative association. If anything, it gives a pleasant "buddies" feeling to the two names.

You don't have to switch their birth order to switch the order in which you say their names: we don't always say the names of non-twin children in order of age. If you want Milo Samuel to be the older twin because he's his dad's namesake, then have him be the older twin and still go ahead and say his name second. But I will also add that a friend of mine who had twin boys deliberately gave the dad's name to the secondborn twin, so that they would each have something special: one is the older/firstborn twin, and the other has the dad's name.

I see what you mean about not wanting to give your child an experience like your brother's, but the name Milo is not a strange choice for a boy; I don't think it will be an issue. In the meantime, I would use your brother's situation as a reason to not take your family's strong opinions too much into consideration: they chose your brother's name, and that did not turn out well.

Or, to put it more kindly, their tastes are not the same as yours---and different tastes isn't something you need to adjust for. If a friend with sons named Ian and Charlie tells me she doesn't like a name I'm considering, I might pay attention because I know our styles are similar, so her input is meaningful to me. But if my friend with sons named Addison and Jayden doesn't like my name choice, I can comfortably disregard that, because I know we just have different styles: a name that pleases her is not going to be one that makes sense for me to use, and vice versa. And to add a vote to the other side, Milo was one of our three finalists for our youngest child. (Oliver would have been a fourth finalist, but unfortunately I had made the mistake of naming a cat Oliver. We considered it anyway.)

I am not sure what you should do about the name Finn. I am thinking about how you will feel if you give up the name and then your friend never has a son. If it's your top favorite name, and if your husband loves it too, and if your friend is not even pregnant, it feels too severe to have you give up the name as if only one child at a time could have it. Even if she later has a son named Finn, the two boys wouldn't be very close in age. But only you know if using the name would cause a rift in your friendship that wasn't worth it. Could you use, say, Griffin, and then call him Finn as a nickname? Or do you like the name Ian? Or Quinn?

We did a post awhile back where I got a little carried away and made a long list of names for boy twins. I wonder if any of those would work? I'm just going to post all of them again here:

Frederick and George
Edmund and Henry
Simon and Frederick
Simon and Isaac
Isaac and Frederick
John and Daniel
Elliot and Malcolm
Louis and George
Milo and Emmett
Milo and Malcolm
Oliver and Benjamin
Oliver and Henry
Daniel and Jonathan
Ian and Rhys
Ian and Leo
Davis and Harris
Ruben and Rhys
Rufus and Ruben
Rhys and Aidric
Felix and Aidric
Calvin and Sullivan
Calvin and Malcolm
Anderson and Sullivan
Anderson and Harrison
Keegan and Declan
Daniel and Declan
Simon and Oliver
Milo and Felix
Wesley and Henry


Clarabella said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Martha said...

My husband met twin boys on our local playground named Felix and Oscar. He said to their mom "like the Odd Couple?" She laughed and remarked that they hadn't thought of that when they named them, but they get that comment a lot! Isn't that funny? I don't think the Milo and Otis reference is anywhere close to the names you chose, and I wholeheartedly agree with Swistle's suggestion of how to deal with such comments. I think Milo and Oliver are great names.

Katherine said...

Does Swistle know JLo? She named her twins Max and the popular children's show Dragon Tales? On PBS? Where the children also happen to be Hispanic? I wish we could ask her.

I am only familiar with Milo and Otis bc it has come up on Swistle, but I am very familiar with the name Milo bc we know several. One in real life, also it was the name of the baby on Gossip Girl. Also, before these two things, it was on our list. (We took it off bc of the one we know IRL, not on GG)

I love Milo and Oliver.
I love Oliver and Milo.

Also, I think Swistle has mentioned this before, and I'm from a family obsessed with birth order and as the not oldest child and the mother of the not oldest grandchild all I can say is UG, but I really don't think it matters one bit which baby is born first for which honor names.

I know several mothers of twins who refused to tell their children who was born first (bc it is something to fight about until oh at least high school) (although my personal experience is with G/G girls and perhaps they are more likely to fight about such things?)

Manday said...

I Like Oliver and Milo and would use them! I have never heard of that movie and I am 28...

I would not give up Finn because a friend MIGHT use it after a MIDDLE name IF she has a boy.

And Swistle - I have not seen this list, are you aware that the twins in Harry Potter are Fred and George?

Anonymous said...

When I read Swistle's title for this post I thought "Milo & Oliver are great twin names". My son was obsessed with Milo & Otis and I didn't make the connection.

As for the people in your family who don't like Milo-eh, whatever. People have different tastes. You should also consider the age of the people making the comments. If they are coming mainly from the grandparents generation their idea of a "good" name is likely to be a bit out of date. Milo & similar names have been slowly climbing the charts, so a Milo is unlikely to feel like he as a "weird" name.

I like Swistle's idea of making the namesake be the 2nd oldest so that each twin has something special.

Anonymous said...

I do remember the movie Milo & Otis but also didn't make the connection. Love the names.

call me nora said...

I really love how one starts with "Oli" and one ends with "ilo". It doesn't stand out yet it is "twinny". What a great set!
Anytime I hear the name Milo I think of the children movie, but not a bad thing at all. I would never ever think (or say!) that perhaps you named them from that movie. (Also, it is ALWAYS on Netflix as a recommended movie because my daughter watches shows on there so I constantly see it. If this were two years ago before my Netflix it wouldn't have even crossed my mind. If that helps at all)
Maybe you could look at the boys first and name them then. Might turn out to be Oliver and Milo birth order? :)

StephLove said...

I'd keep the names as is. I like how they go together and changing the order in which you say them might eliminate or at least reduce the reference.

Megan said...

IMO, because I was a huuuuge Milo and Otis fan as a kid I would make that association but I would also drop it very quickly and wouldn't even mention it I think. Just sort a mental "oh, like..." and then it's gone because the kids standing in front of me are nothing like the dog and cat in the movie. I don't believe that movie is making a resurgence, except for nostalgia's sake among parents, so most like their generation wouldn't even know it. As for Finn? Well, I know two personally, and also sort-of-know a Finnian, Finnegan and Griffin so to me it *seems* popular (you mention not liking that) but I haven't looked it up and there's no way to really say how many kids hold that nickname. If you love it and it's your favorite, you should absolutely use it! As a nickname or as a firstname, and its popularity can help some since, if your friend does end up with a little boy some day, he won't be the only Finn around anyway. Buuut if this is a friendship that really matters to you and you think it could really hurt, you'll have to make that call.

Anonymous said...

I too watched Milo and Otis a lot as a kid. I think of that movie anytime I hear just the name Milo or just Otis. But I would probably never mention it because Milo in particular is a pretty mainstream name now. I love Milo and Oliver together. I prefer Oliver first I think because of the Oli-ilo thing which is pretty neat. But whatever order you use them in they are great, well matched names.

Anonymous said...

Oh and also, what about Finnegan, nn Finn? Still too close?

Maureen said...

I love these names as a twin-set! Well done! (And I grew up in the 80s and can't even REMEMBER the cat-and-dog movie, let alone have it come to mind after hearing your boys' names!)

Christina Fonseca said...

You have chosen great names. Just call them Oliver and Milo even if Milo is older.

Kimberly said...

Great names in either order! You can't go wrong.

@Swistle: have we had a conversation here about the pros/cons of sharing potential names with family and friends?

Swistle said...

Kimberly- I don't think we've had a specific post devoted to it, but it comes up a lot---a paragraph here or there in tons of different posts.

Anonymous said...

My only current association with Milo is the Milo and Otis movie, but with a little baby face added to that mix, that would be an easy association to change. If I were meeting twins named Milo and Oliver, I "might" use the movie reference to help me remember their names at first, but I certainly wouldn't think they were named after those characters! Oliver and Otis have nothing in common but first initial. Those are great names, both of them, and I think they make a great sibling group.

Gail said...

LOVE Oliver & Milo as twin names. They're perfectly balanced in terms of dignity, modernity and quirkiness. They also go really well with the kind of girl names you favor.

I like this pairing better than Oliver & Finn, though this pair is appealing in its own right. Finbar is another full name I've heard used for Finn, but Finbar doesn't roll off the tongue nearly as well as Oliver. I do prefer Finn over Milo with your surname, but this preference might be outweighed by the awesomeness of Oliver & Milo for twins. This would probably end up being the point I'd belabor: Milo Mattke or Finn Mattke? Because they're only little boys for so long, and then they sail out into life with their first and last names.

Oh--I want to add that I love the middles you've chosen--also a perfect balance.

Another Erin from the 80s said...

Miles instead?

Matti said...

" if you HAD wanted to name them after the cat and dog, you would not have succeeded."
I LOVE this so much! I love the whole paragraph, but this is just so perfect.
Also, Milo and Oliver are wonderful twin boy names, and no one is under any obligation to like the names, except for you. They aren't bizarre names that are likely to make either son feel angst over his name, they are both in use right now without being over popular (for those who could care one way or the other about these things), so they won't be the only ones named this in their generation.
And, FWIW, I didn't make the movie connection at first, and Swistle's response is so good that I think it's one we could ALL employ in other areas of our lives.
On a completely unrelated side note, my verification question looks almost exactly like the old house number we were all trying to figure out for Swistle a couple of months ago. :) Hmmmm....

Anonymous said...

Oliver and Milo together are just wonderful. I say go ahead and use them, in that order to eliminate any nagging worries about the Milo and Otis reference, and to give the second boy his own specialness with his father's name.

If you still want Finn, the name Fintan is pretty cool.

Oliver and Fintan

Good luck!

Patrucua said...

Oliver and Milo -- great names together! I don't see any need to change them. And I like the idea of giving the first born Grandpa's name as his mn and the second born, his dad's name -- something special for each of them. I have twin grandsons and that's exactly how their middle names are, but just by chance. The first name chosen had my husband's name as the middle. When the parents found out they were having twin boys, they gave the second boy his dad's name as his mn. I think it would feel strange to call them in reverse birth order because 'technically' one is 'older' than the other. I'd suggest Oliver Scott be the first born and Milo Samuel, the second. You're very lucky to be having twins; they're special!

Anonymous said...

Another thought -- while non twin siblings are frequently referred to in birth order (though not the Obama girls and this both delights and perplexes me), why do twins need to continue with one version? It simply doesn't matter who is older when referring to them. It can be BOTH Milo and Oliver and also Oliver and Milo. In fact, pretending for a moment to be a twin, that is what I would prefer, as both a hypothetical older and younger twin.

FWIW, the twins I know through my kids are never exclusively A and B. They also referred to as B and A.

Auntie G said...

Milo and Oliver (and Oliver and Milo) are great names. FULL STOP. :) Use them!

Swistle said...

Anonymous- You're right: I call our twins "Elizabeth and Edward" AND "Edward and Elizabeth." I'd also note that there are many times when I say only one name: twins are together in utero, but after that they exist separately just as regular siblings do.

Adam said...

If Finn is your favorite, you should use it!!! I have a friend whose little guy is named Griffin, but he always goes by Finn. Perfect for you, since you get the name you want and the style/sound are completely off from Finley. Plus, Oliver and Griffin/Oliver and Finn sound perfect together!

British American said...

I super love Oliver and Milo as twin boy names. Love, love, love the Oli and ilo repetition connection. So I definitely think you should use those names.

Though you do sound a little sad not to use Finn. I think you should be able to use that name if you really want to. Though, as I said, I think you have picked out awesome twin names.

Anonymous said...

I think Milo and Oliver or Oliver and Milo are the perfect twin names. and i like the idea of mixing up which name you say first. i do agree with swistle that making the second born the one named after the dad gives each one something special.

On a side note, I know twin adult men (and one of them was named the "john smith doe the FIFTH" to carry on the name of the father, grandfather, etc. and the other twin was just given another name). The "fifth" only produced female offspring and the "second twin" only produced male offspring. can you imagine the pressure? I feel like they must have always been thought of as the "namesake" and the "other". however, in all fairness, neither one ever mentioned anything to me about how it made them feel so i could totally be reading too much into it. Probably something girl twins would fight over but not boy twins!

Joanne said...

I would use Oliver and Milo. I think people ask questions like "oh, like ____?" about names to just identify them and also to have something to say, because people can be jerks. Myself included! But Milo is a great name and so is Oliver and I don't even know about any other Milo so I think maybe it's an age thing? Presumably your Milo won't run into it either as I find once there is an actual person attached to the name, people shut up about it and attach the NAME to the EXISTING PERSON and it's all fine. Best of luck!

Laura said...

Also chiming in to say I love Milo and Oliver, and would consider Milo as a name for my own son one day. But if you're really not sure about family reaction, I wonder how you'd feel about Nico? Similar in style, same number of syllables, and if it's too nicknamey for you then you could use the full name Nicholas which also pairs well with Oliver, I think. Anyway just a thought...

Anonymous said...

Oliver and Miles (close enough to Milo but wouldn't bring up the Milo and Otis reference)!

Laura said...

I wanted to chime in earlier but am just getting around to it. Just skimmed the other comments, so I apologize for repeating what's already been said. Milo and Oliver are quite possibly the perfect twin boy names! I love love love both names on their own and putting them as a sib set/twin set makes them all that much better. I am somewhat familiar with the movie and it didn't occur to me at all because...Oliver isn't Otis...right? :)

That being said, if your all-time favorite boy name is Finn and you don't use it for one of your sons, I would encourage you to at least give it another thought for one of the twins. Would you regret not using it if you heard of another little Finn? Like I said, I LOVE Milo and Oliver (or Oliver and Milo) but make sure you can let your first choice for a name go without sad feelings. I wish you all the best with your boys!

Erin said...

Even though it's pretty popular, I like Milo with Owen.