What’s in a Name?

Naming all of my kids was not without its own stress. Growing up, I remember saying, “I am going to marry the man that lets me name my child…” There were many times when me or my sisters would stake our claim on a name. What I think we forgot is that the guy that we ended up with was going to have a say.

Let me preface the rest of this post by saying what complete idiots Leo and I were about naming our kids. Complete morons.

I had a lot of names I loved that were somewhat ruined because I was a teacher and some names that I swore I’d use because of a student I loved. When I worked in the four-year-old room at a daycare, I had a little boy named, Rocky. He had a head of blond curly hair and big blue eyes and I loved that kid like he was my own and knew if I had a son, I’d want him to look exactly like him. I babysat him often and even remember bringing him to my mom’s house once. I remember her saying, “You know your kids are most likely not going to look like that.” Even though Leo had blue-gray eyes and light brown hair, I knew the odds were not very good that I’d get my own Rocky. Imagine my surprise when I had Nico and he had blond semi-curly hair and big blue eyes. When it came down to name him, I couldn’t pull the trigger on naming him Rocky. Leo was on board with the name but when it came right down to it, it didn’t feel right.

We both liked the name Nicholas but at the time I had two Nick’s in my class for the second year in a row and I didn’t want him to be Nick G. or Nicholas G. We came up with the bright idea to name him Nicholas but call him “Nico”.  We figured that Nico was such a cool name but sounded like a fighter (not gang…more like Rocky Marciano) or a gangster and this way when he was older and wanted to be a doctor or lawyer (hitting my head with my palm), he could have the professional name of Nicholas. Now, Nico has the natural ability to become a lawyer with his arguing skills but you only have to know him for about five minutes to know he is most definitely a “Nico” and not at all a “Nicholas”.  Even less of a Nick which is what A LOT of people mistakenly call him seeing his full name. Because of this, why, why, why didn’t we just name him Nico?? At the very least, why didn’t we spell it like Nicolas Cage? That way, maybe it would make more sense that we call him Nico.  I can’t tell you how much grief and stress this has caused Nico which in turn stresses or upsets me. Nico doesn’t want Nicholas to be any part of his name. What’s worse is that we can’t get ANYONE (other than friends and family) to just call him Nico. I write Nico on every single one of his forms and it always comes back with “can’t find student”. At doctors’ offices, they get all of their undies in bunches when the name on the form doesn’t match the name on the insurance. Once, in the yearbook in middle school, someone took it upon themselves to shorten his name to Nick. Nick Gubenko. That person doesn’t even exist. And it was too late. Already there for all of his school’s history. All I could do was be an annoying pain in the butt the following year making sure they put Nico. I get it…we screwed up making Nico pay for it. I’ve looked into changing his name legally and I swear , I am going to do it but I do not have Leo’s backing. Leo, someone who was named one thing and called something else, thinks that all we have to do is keep putting Nico down for everything and sooner or later, Nicholas will fade away, like the name that he was born with did. Why? Why? Why didn’t we just name him Nico?

When I was pregnant with the twins, I had a lot of fun thinking of names. If it was going to be two boys, the names were already picked out: Thomas Ernest (after my Papa and my dad and Grandpa) and Joseph Rocco (after Leo’s grandpa and my great grandfather…and I’d get my Rocky even though he’d go by Joey). For girls, it was going to be Kayla and Kylie (mine) or Jenna and Jessie (Leo’s) or Alyssa and some other “A” name. Then we found out that we were having a boy and a girl and for a while they were going to be Tommy and Taylor. Taylor never felt right so it was Tommy and Kayla or Tommy and Alyssa, both girls’ names that Leo was not really liking. He was fighting tooth and nail for Jessie or any other boys’ name that could be a girls’ name. I already had a boy and was having another one. I didn’t want a boys’ name for a girl. I wanted the girliest name possible. We could not agree. One night, when I was 8 months pregnant, we were watching The Sopranos and Tony was having hallucinations about a woman named Isabella. We looked at each other and it sounded right but it was my best friend’s favorite girls’ name. Once we got the okay from her (and a funny little fact here is that her dog at the time was Nikko and her husband’s name is Tommy and she was pregnant at the time and knew she was having a boy and was thinking they might be done), we didn’t tell anyone but that was the name we decided. I was a die-hard Days of Our Lives fan and loved the character, Belle Black so we, the geniuses we are decided that we’d name her Isabella and call her Belle or Bella (Nico was only 3 at the time so we had not had the annoyances of school yet to know what a mistake it was to do that). Belle is the one that stuck and I joke all the time saying, “We thought we might get Belle from Beauty and the Beast but instead, we got Tinkerbell.

What is so incredibly frustrating and a little ironic is that Isabella is Belle on EVERYTHING. School, doctor’s offices, yearbooks, report cards. EVERYTHING. I love the name Isabella and she answers to both but she is Belle. I can’t get anyone to write Nico on ANYTHING! Again, WHY? WHY? WHY?

When I got pregnant with Rocco, before I knew I was having a boy, I vowed that if it was a girl, I was going to get my Kayla or Kylie and was leaning more toward Kylie. We found out it was a boy so again, Kayla and Kylie flew out the window. By this time, Joey didn’t really fit. Nico played baseball with a boy named Johnny and I fell in love with that name. We decided that it would be John Rocco and we’d call him Johnny. After he passed away, I couldn’t name him Johnny. I don’t know why but I couldn’t. Leo, I think in his own pain, didn’t want to talk about names so I was going to name him Dino since that was  a name that I loved that Leo didn’t. He didn’t like that and we decided that since I always wanted a Rocky, we’d name him Rocco Joseph.

When I got pregnant with Gia, I was afraid to even think of names. We knew it would be Johnny if it was a boy but girls’ names escaped us. Leo still wanted a boys’ name, thinking that was cute and because I already had two boys, I still wanted a girly girl name. We threw around all of same names from before but none felt right. All I knew was that after telling every single one of Nico’s middle school teachers that he went by “Nico”, I vowed to name the next child the name I wanted her to be called. No nicknames, no longer, formal names. Just one name for her to be called always. We had one fleeting moment, before the middle school thing, where we were talking to a girl named Daniella and both of us  really liked that name but…I wanted to call her Ella and Leo said he was going to call her Dani so I vetoed it for my daughter’s name and instead made it the name of the main characters in the book I am working on. And so we decided on Gia Nicole, a play on my sister, Gina’s name and my sister Nikki’s name. And if I ever have another baby girl, maybe I’ll name her Leah Christine after my other two sisters (but I hope they aren’t holding their breath on that one). For those wondering, my dear husband, lover of nicknames managed to shorten her three-letter name by calling her “G” or “GiGi”. To me, she is just Gia.

Another funny fact is that my best friend did go on to have a daughter before we had Gia, whose name is Gianna so we said if we ever get two dogs they are for sure going to be Rochelle and Dylan or some form of them so that we can represent her whole family.

Like I said, I really want to legally change Nico’s name and he really wanted me to before high school and still asks me to but Leo still thinks it is unnecessary. If I use a lawyer to do it, it is really expensive. I have tried doing it myself but was confused by the forms I was supposed to download and then was told that Nico will have to carry with him two forms of i.d. when asked for his birth certificate. Maybe that isn’t as big of a hassle as I think it is. Anyone out there do it? Is it a big deal? Should I tell him to deal with it until he is older and can put Nico down on everything until Nicholas fades away, while I suppress my own anger at how dumb we were with such a big decision?

Something else that is ironic is that we thought Italian names sounded good with our last name and that way both heritages would be represented (the little bit of Scotch that I am seems to get lost in everything but Nico’s hair and Belle’s highlights). We also thought it would make sense since the dark hair, dark eyes are the dominant genes so we thought we’d have Italian looking kids. Instead we got this:

Picture by Jody Byas from 2011, might be time for a new one. :)

Picture by Jody Byas from 2011, might be time for a new one. :)

A bunch of blondies with Italian names.

So tell me…how did you pick your kids’ names? Or tell me if you could change your name, what would you change it to?

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  1. “A bunch of blondies with Italian names” made me laugh for some reason. :)

    We are lucky that we love our boys’ names. Our only criteria for #1 was that it had to be short, easy to pronounce and spell, and we hoped it’d fit him. It fit him perfectly (FYI, we picked it out of a baby book, way before we knew he was a boy. We flipped to a page randomly, saw the name and thought, perfect).

    Of course when it came to #2, the best name to fit our criteria was already taken by #1.. We still wanted a short, easy name, and finally settled on Kai.

    We did not nane him Kai. At 36 weeks pregnant, my husband backed out, said he thought it was too ‘hippy’ and could not imagine saddling our child with that name. So, we went back to the first name we picked. It’s not one syllable, and it’s not the easiest name to pronounce, but it fits so perfectly, I figure he can live with spelling his name out over the phone to people, just like his parents have to, hah!

    And I’m sorry about Nico’s situation. I have no advice, except maybe really try and save up for a lawyer to do it? It sounds like it really matters to him. Good luck!
    Alison recently posted..Conversations With My ChildrenMy Profile

    • I love how easy you had it the first time around…flipped open a book, found one and used it and it fit. I am hoping someone reads this and has some advice for me with Nico, otherwise, I am just going to go to the county and ask someone to walk me through doing it myself. The funny thing is that I did call and was put on hold for about 20 minutes. I gave up but now am thinking I should revisit it.

      Love that I made you laugh. :)

  2. I feel like naming our children was probably the biggest challenge we had in our marriage…especially when we had to come up with a 2nd girl’s name. Getting to Emma’s name (which is Emma Charlotte) was a huge, uphill battle. Let’s just say that I have fantastic taste in names, but also VERY specific taste, and Robert has terrible taste in names, but also VERY specific taste. Yikes. Anyway, when we picked Emma’s name (before Ross and Rachel, thank you very much!), we loved it. Instantly. It was perfect.
    Picking Abby’s name was a lot harder. I desperately wanted the name Sydney, but he did not love it. He wanted Abigail, which I did not love. In the end, though, we compromised (what a novel concept in marriage, huh!) and named her Abigail Sydney…and knew from the start we would call her Abby. Ironically, now, I probably call her Abigail more than anyone else. She is just so totally her name! :)
    And now to end the world’s longest comment, I will just say that I really enjoyed reading the origins of your kids’ names! :)-Ashley
    thedoseofreality recently posted..HotSean! And BotheredMy Profile

    • Well since it was the world’s longest post, I love the long comment. Truthfully, I love long comments always. :)

      I love your girls’ names. They sound like they could be characters in a fabulous children’s book.

      Naming our kids challenged our marriage as well. I swear, Leo would not let go of the name Jessie.

  3. We did not have any problem naming the giirls, we both liked the names first time out. But they are similar with y endings and I call them Bec-Deb or Deb-Bec. They go by their full names as adults.
    Katie recently posted..Duck and Cover-Mama Kat’s Writer’s WorhopMy Profile

  4. That last bit with the picture made me laugh. :) Great names.

  5. We knew beforehand that all of our babies would be boys. When I was pregnant with our twins, Hubby and I each picked a name, but it had to mean something. And “Slim’s” name starts with J also., so we had Joey and J—. With our third, Hubby jokingly wanted to name him Knox because he thought it was tough. Obviously, I said no, and it’s really an A name (incidentally, when Brad Pitt named his kid Knox, Hubby said, See, it was a cool name!), the fourth was one I liked, and honestly, with Baby E, it was the only boy name we had left that we both liked! All our boys’ names are pretty traditional – not too trendy or crazy.
    Kathy at kissing the frog recently posted..In With The Cool Crowd ~ Guest PostMy Profile

    • Now you have me all curious what their real names are. I thought about calling my kids something else on here but a) I am not clever enough to come up with names that would fit them (though I am trying in order to try and fictionalize the blog) and b) I’d get confused and call Tommy by Nico’s name and that would confuse everyone. :) I admire you for being able to keep them straight.

  6. I work in a doctor’s office, so I know what a pain we can be about that! When we named our son David, we thought we might call him Dave or (worse) Davey, but he was and is and always will be David to us. His friends may shorten it, but not his Mom!
    Michelle recently posted..The Story Of Your NameMy Profile

    • It’s totally my fault for causing the confusion. I get when we go to a doctor that we don’t see very often or it’s our first time there but when we have been going there for years and they call him “Nick” it drives me insane. Same thing with teachers. Ugghh… Thanks for stopping by! Can’t wait to check your post out!

  7. Each of my kids is named after someone in our family. Not the same name, just using their first letter (Matthew is after my grandfather, Martin, etc.). I’m the opposite of you though. I hate nicknames. With a passion. Growing up I was always called Kim instead of Kimberly and I hated that. Kim wasn’t my name, so I didn’t want to do that to my kids. My in laws are big offenders of shortening names so I really had to put my foot down there!

    • OMG!!! I think I’ve called you Kim before!!!! And we’ve been friends for a year now! I did the very thing that I wrote in here that I hate! Shame, shame, shame! I’m so sorry!

      I think Leo always nicknames because his name is “Leo” and there is no nickname. Maybe he felt left out. I’m with you. I grew up being called “Ann” and I hated it. I wanted to be called AnnMarie. Finally after I graduated college, I started introducing myself as “AnnMarie” and it finally stuck.

  8. Ah…names. I LOVE all your kids names…they are SO cool. Poor Nico though- ugh. What a pain for both you and him!!! Ours came pretty easy… I wanted names with a C and my niece came up with Cassidy and I was going with Caden or Caleb or Cameron…but Derek didn’t really like any of those until a friend mentioned “Cade”- it was PERFECT for us both… and for my little guy. ALTHOUGH everyone who is introduced to him always gets it wrong- “Cane? Cabe? What?” I have to spell it out for each and every person!! GAH.
    Chris Carter recently posted..February Friend #2My Profile

    • Pretty cool names yourself, Chris. I have had to spell my name my whole life. Apparently, AnnMarie is an odd way to spell my name. For a little bit, I spelled it Ann-Marie so people would know it was one word but I hated that. So now I just clarify, AnnMarie, one word with no “e”.

  9. A bunch of blondies with Italian names.- haha, I love it! They seem to suit them, though. that’s tough about Nico, I love the name. I wish I had some advice for how to change it. And Gia is so cute. They all are! I chose the same prompt, and I’m loving reading all about how people chose their names! It’s such a great topic.
    Helena recently posted..Why I named my daughter Syndil.My Profile

  10. Your kids have gorgeous names. I know a lot of people like you who have their children a “proper” name yet planned to have them known by a nickname, but it never worked out. Case in point, my BF named her child Elisabeth thinking she would call her Beth – and to this day, she is Elisabeth. I named my son Brooks – and a lot of people call him Brooke – or he gets confused for being a girl when people do not know him. I love the name Brooks but after so much confusion, I’m not sure if I would name him that again!

  11. This was such an interesting post to read. I love hearing how people came up with names for their kids. It be interesting to write down my kids’ name history. According to my husband they are all named after favorite film characters. I let him believe that as long as it makes him happy!!! :) I sometimes get a thought that we should have just named our youngest the nick name we all call her… but I love her real name.
    Susi recently posted..Picture Perfect Weekly #6 {Feeling very Beachie}My Profile

  12. I think you picked beautiful names! Naming children is a lot harder that it would seem until you are actually trying to do it. I also love that you are a Belle Black fan. Takes one to know one, right? 😉
    Meredith recently posted..The Assault of the BeardMy Profile

  13. I think you did a great job!

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