The Name Game


We call my daughter Charlie. Her full name is Charlotte Grace.

I’ve heard, “Hey, that’s the same name as Sarah Michelle Gellar’s daughter.” To which I responded with a half smile and half snarl, “Yes, I know.” (and showed some restraint in not following that with, “I named mine first!” so as not to seem like a Kindergartner who hasn’t learned to share.)

I’ve been on the playground with my daughter and called to her, “Charlie!” and heard the excited cry from another little girl nearby,“Hey just like Good Luck Charlie.” I smiled and nodded and muttered under my breath something like, “Damn Disney Channel.”

You know how it goes—you get pregnant and immediately start the name game. You want a name for your baby that’s fun and unique without being too weird or cause for future therapy. After months of tossing names around and in and out, you finally find THE ONE. You think you’re being all original, and when the joyous bundle arrives, you claim your name as if it were yours and yours alone.

And then BAM, as soon as you commit, popularity strikes.

So annoying.

Actually, when I was pregnant with my daughter, I didn’t start playing the name game right away. I had had fertility issues and miscarriages, and when that happens, with each subsequent pregnancy, you try not to get too attached to the idea right away. But after the 20 week ultrasound and amnio showed a healthy baby girl, I let myself relax and hope a little and start the game.

My husband always liked the name Emma. (Jane Austen’s novel is one of his favorites) and I grew to like it too. But then the “Friends” baby happened, and I noticed that Emma and Emily have shown up in the top 10 baby names lists for years, so that was quickly dismissed.

I also liked other old fashioned names like Abby and Olivia, but they were making a comeback, so we quickly crossed those off our lists too.

I like boys names for girls, so I thought and said to my husband, “What if we name her Charlie after your dad?” (the only grandparent she would never meet) He liked it, and so it was decided. To give our girl an option, in case she came to hate having a boy’s name, we decided we’d name her Charlotte and call her Charlie.

It wasn’t long after she arrived in our world that it seemed like there were Charlottes and Charlies springing up all over the place—boys and girls, the famous and the ordinary.

At my daughter’s first daycare, a younger Charlotte also called Charlie joined her class a few months after she started and they started calling my girl “Big Charlie.” UGH.

I won’t lie. Every time I heard of a new Charlotte or Charlie, it made heart sink a little. I’ve been a teacher in years where I’ve had three Ryans and four Madisons in the same class. I didn’t want my girl to be in that situation.

I don’t know why it was important to me for her name to be a little something different, it just was. I know it’s just a name, but we take our names with us wherever we go and in everything we do.

I guess we can’t be too selfish about names. There’s only so many to around. And in the end, we make our mark on the world regardless.

Me, I’ve got my Charlie. And yes, maybe I’ll snarl a little on the inside when I run into others. But at least I know I’ve got the best one.

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  1. Helene says:

    And so it goes that the only 2 Melissa’s I had ever heard of back in 1984 were Melissa Manchester and Melissa from Falcon Crest (I’m not gonna lie, I hoped my girl would LOOK like that Melissa and have a bit of her spunk but not her mean streak!) I really liked Melissa, thought it was pretty and unique too! Well NOT SO MUCH!!!!! That year Melissa made the top ten list of most popular girl’s names. Where the hell WAS I? Was I living under a rock? In a cave? Luckily she hadn’t had too much trouble in school with “others” of the same name, I think we silently WILLED the others to accept being called Missy, which I did NOT like.
    And my Melissa IS gorgeous like the one from Falcon Crest and she even has a great singing voice like Melissa Manchester. And she’s got spunk, don’t ya know!!! But she’s also got something else: ME for a mother who tried like hell to give her a pretty but not run-of-the-mill name and she really appreciates that! And Charlie will too :)


  2. Nadja says:

    You have great taste in names, I have to say. Emma, Abby, and Olivia made it on our list of girls’ names as well. We ended up with Audrey and love the name. So far, we haven’t found many Audreys in my daughter’s classes. The worst thing anyone’s ever said was actually in the newborn nursery after she was born. “Audrey is such an old name. Can I call her something else?” I couldn’t believe that nurse even asked me the question!


    Kelly Reply:

    Well hi there, Nadja! And welcome! So excited to have a person I don’t know personally commenting, so thank you. Audrey is a pretty name (happens to also be my mother-in-law’s name) and man, that was a nervy comment for sure.


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