What's in a Name?

"So, it is official. The light rail train in the Twin Cities finally has a name: the Zip Line.
Now all we need is a train......and a rail." -Kool 108 Radio Announcer

Sometimes, but not always, names happen first. Sometimes people spend all sorts of money coming up with names for things that are not even built yet. Sometimes when people have only just begun talking about having kids, they already have names picked out, with no plans for immediate conception.

And then there are the other times. Baby Solomon is part of this second category. Having used all the names we ever even partially agreed on for the first four children, Kurt and I struggled to find the right name this time. I loved Finnigan or Finnian (Finn), which matched up with the Irish nature of Aidan and means "Little Fair One" (a good description for the kids in our family...actually, I'm highly considering giving it to Liam...), or Quentin (Quen) which fittingly enough means 5th in Latin. Kurt, on the other hand, really wanted to go with a family name and was hopeful we would use David. I have a soft spot for old-school but less common names (that ironically enough always seem to be HUGE the year we use them) and Kurt wanted much more traditional and was making a case for going totally Biblical this time as well. He suggested Andrew (my brother's name), I suggested Desmond, because it was Irish, (and I'll admit, one of my favorite characters on Lost) and I could call him Dez or Dezzy. (Everyone else seemed to think of Desmond Tutu so perhaps this wasn't my best idea.) Meanwhile, the kids were casting their vote for Mario Denny (Mario, because they LOVE Super Mario Bros....and it was Kurt's uncle's name, and Denny because well, it is my dad's name and another bit of the Irish and it made me laugh when you said them together.) And then there was Lily who explained when she has kids she will name them Luigi and Yellow Toad and Blue Toad and Big Bowser. (It's probably a good thing we have a checks and balances system going on which includes parental veto powers.)

Beyond all that, we REALLY AND TRULY thought we were having a girl. I can't explain why, I know not the reason (thanks Dr. Suess) but Kurt and I were fairly certain about it. We were going to be having a Mary Diane (with the initials MD we could call her 'Doc'): the girls were excited, Aidan was bummed but hopeful that "our next baby could be a boy" (insert mom and dad choking on their dinner) and Liam, well, he didn't get it one way or the other. (He certainly does now and he is NOT the least bit amused....he's even suggested that Grandma will be taking the baby home with her when she leaves; quite a lot to get across for a kid who doesn't say too much!)

And then, SURPRISE! Out popped a boy (and it was just like that...pop....) A BOY! On the very night our To-Do list told us to finalize names (i.e. come up with a boy's name we agreed on) we were in the hospital looking at this precious, nameless baby. And we looked at each other, dazed (at least I was): now what?

"What do you want to call him?" Kurt asked within moments of delivery. Still a little shocked at having given birth when I had been leisurely taking a bath less than an hour earlier, I am sure my unspoken answer was "call who?"

And then, he asked me again the next morning when all our kids were right there in the room and when I had no answer, he called back later to talk about it over the phone. You see, we were completely unprepared. We had some names on our short list but I am not the most decisive person postpartum and I'll be honest: I began thinking that maybe that mom who sold the naming rights to her unborn kid on eBay a few years back had been on to something. How fast could I get some bids, I wondered.

And everyone we called to announce the birth wanted to know his name. (The nerve of them all! Sheesh!) The pressure was on.

Many people asked, "Well, when you look at him, what do you see?"

"A baby."

"Doesn't a name just come to you?"

"No, he looks like all our other babies." (Hmmm, Liam II.....no, can't really do that.....)

And so, after much (or was it very little?) discussion, we decided on Solomon James, put it on the birth certificate form and took the little guy with great big hands (and big shoes to fill) home. And then we started getting feedback....

Now, quite honestly, it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. Solly, or simply Baby, (as Liam calls him out of pure necessity) or Sawman (as Lily says because she talks too fast) is going to live up to his name one way or the other. And while some people think it is a terrific name and are quick to tell us so (and in a very genuine manner) others are a little hesitant and we can gather a lot from their silence, and even more so from the less tactful opinions (What did you name him? Solomon James. Oh, I really like the name James.) We joked about holding the traditionally Jewish brit milah (pronounced Bris) for him since his circumcision had not taken place at the hospital (and several people had commented on the "Jewish-ness" of the name....) And of course, everyone wants to know what we will call him (uh, Solomon?...Unless he has REALLY done it and then it will be more like SOLOMON JAMES!) because certainly it warrants a nickname. Well then, I was thinking Capone, as in, the most well known "wiseguy" in mobster history; Kurt has high hopes we can call him Fatty: he has a friend from college whose last name is Solomon and they call him Fatty because he entered college at 16 and was on the wrestling team as a light weight. Then, in the first couple years, since he was still growing, he gained like 30 pounds much to the dismay of the wrestling coach, so they nicknamed him Fatty since he gained tons of weight when he wasn't supposed to. He is such a slender guy that the nickname is humorous.

At any rate, when we went for Solomon's first well-check at five days, the pediatrician commented that it was a very strong and wise name.

"Well thanks for that," I said, "because we have taken some heat over this one."

"Oh no," he assured me. "It is a very good name. You should hear some of the names we have. I have a patient named Female (pronounced Fi-mahl-ly) because they hadn't chosen a name so we put "Female Jones" on the baby's name card in the hospital bassinet. They thought it was a GREAT name we had given her and kept it."

When Kurt told his brother (also a pediatrician) he said, "Oh yeah, we have several Female's in our practice." (Really, Solomon is beginning to sound better and better, don't ya think?! I mean, we could have just left it as Baby Boy. Nickname? BB.)

And then when I introduced him to the sweet, little old(er) quilters at the Senior Center, one of them said, "Oh, Solomon James. What a good, wise name. Now, June's great niece just gave birth, too. Tell Karen what HIS name is June."

The other lady looks at me and says, "Delbert. I mean really?! Who names their kid Delbert, even if it is a family name?" (Ok, I kind of felt sorry for that mom because I am guessing she's feeling a bit of scrutiny as well and while I think I can adequately sell the name Solomon, Delbert? Perhaps they will go by Del.)

But best of all, we got a good kick out of a conversation we had at church this Sunday.

I was talking to a man at church who wanted to congratulate us and asked, "So, what did you name him?"

"Solomon James," I said, now a bit more proudly.

"Solomon. Hmmm. Where'd you come up with that name?" he asked. At church.

Long pause....because I had to try not to laugh....and then had to make a mental note to tell our minister he might want to work a little harder on his Bible Basics class...and then, of course, I had to figure out how to answer THAT one without making him feel entirely stupid! In the end, another woman standing around for the conversation laughed for me and began rattling off the Biblical significance of King Solomon to which I tried to lighten it up by telling him we just felt a little more wisdom in our household might be helpful.

At any rate, Solomon James is off to a great start. And we are certain that we chose correctly (if not just for the response). After all, one of the meanings of Solomon is "peace" and after starting our family with Aidan (Gaelic for "Fiery") we are hopeful that ending on a calmer name will be beneficial to us all!


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