Once my sister gathered all of us siblings around a table and pronounced that we were going to decide on the spot who gets dibs on various names for our upcoming babies. By “upcoming,” I mean possibly/hypothetically/hopefully upcoming, not yet expected, in the biological sense. As I understand it, one of the names I’d chosen was one she’d had on her short list of possibilities, and she wanted to prevent any future name-nappings. The rest of us balked at this idea. First come, first serve, we said.
Fast forward to me at a friend’s baby shower, celebrating an actually-upcoming baby. My friend cornered me and got a serious, nervous look on her face. She informed me that she had long wanted to name a baby the name of one of mine and was miffed when the name was announced at church after the birth.
She either subscribed to, or was concerned I subscribed to, a mommy code that includes not naming your child a name that is currently in use by another child in the ward. Or maybe the restriction only applies to babies both born within a short-ish window of time, or maybe only babies of friends of a certain closeness and not just any ward member.
At any rate, she told me that when the ward boundaries were redrawn a couple months previously, splitting us into different wards, she was glad to realize that the name was now available again. But, being that we were still friends, she still wanted to make sure it was ok with me. Not ask my permission, exactly, because it had the air of being rather a done deal. But at least give me a little forewarning. I told her that I wouldn’t have minded in the least, even if we hadn’t been separated by the boundary re-draw.
So in mulling over these events, a few thoughts by way of analysis come to mind.
First, it strikes me as reasonable that, in general, one would prefer to avoid duplication of names among first cousins. This is hardly an endorsement of sitting around a table with notepads and pre-reserving baby names, if for no other reason than how useless that is given the uncertainties of life (also: a tad crass). But for families that remain in frequent close contact at that level, it could get confusing to have ambiguity when saying a name. So can we interpret the concern about this issue from my friend as evidence of how much we see our ward families as family? And if we do see our ward families as family, how odd that the vagaries of boundary changes can rip and stir and mix us all over without warning.
Second, is the desire to avoid duplication of names really springing from the objective of avoiding ambiguity? Or is it just that it is trendy to have “unique” names, even if that just means inventing unholy spellings of conventional names? (see also: this)
Has anyone else had experiences with clashes over baby names? Has someone used your favorite name before you could? Have you upset someone by being an unwitting name thief? Anyone have stories of systems for preventing clashes?