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How I Named My Kids

Updated: Feb 5, 2021

baby in a diaper

I ended up with 2 names and it has raised eyebrows all my life. They are always like "How were you born in the 80s without an armful of names given by your grandparents, uncles, the head of the family?"

I have friends with 5 or even 6 names that seem well-planned & respectably complicated. I, on the other hand, ended up a name that's alarmingly common among males, it's also an "auto-name" i.e any child born during a celebration gets stuck with this name - Christmas, New Year, New-Yam festivals, masquerade dances, lol.

When I turned 12, I asked my mom 1. If they hadn't considered me worthy of the multiple-name fuss? 2. Why I had no English names (a major bother at that point)

Mom: What name would you have liked?

Me: Something pretty. Like “Lace” or “Alicia”

Her: Well, my mom named me Alice and I HATED it (her classmates called her Wonderland sometimes, lol). I thought you would be better off choosing a name for yourself. Something YOU like.

See why I love my mom?

I was just coming to terms with morning sickness and losing sight of my feet when we remembered that we couldn’t call him the baby for the rest of his life, we had to agree. Hubs and I usually have to meet in the middle when it comes to naming anything. I like to see some flair and depth while he's completely fuss-free, wanting the name to portray exactly what it’s about. Needless to say, naming websites is always drama-filled at our house.

So the middle it is.

So back to the naming, here were some factors that influenced my choices:

1. In my culture, naming a child isn’t just a fun activity. A name is a combination of a gift and a prayer. A name carries all of the dreams a parent wants to see their child achieve. Not-so-fun fact: In many cultures, children are not named for days, until the family is sure that they will survive. In mine, a child’s name isn’t announced until the 8th day after he or she is born.

2. My ancestral background and tribal ties which will always be part of me. For my kids, it’s even trickier since my husband and I are from different tribes and we wanted both to be represented in a meaningful way.

3. I didn’t want a trending name because people do that. Hence the many T’challas and Dreams wildin’ in Zoom KG. Nothing wrong with these names but I didn’t want to be influenced by anything that fleeting.

4. The U.S doesn’t give room on the birth certificate for 5 or 6 names which is totally normal in my birth country. It’s down to 2 and that’s it. So, I couldn’t afford to be extra.

5. Whatever name we gave him had to still be meaningful even when shortened. It's crazy how far people will go to weaponize our names because they can't find anything else. It could be someone mispronouncing a name on purpose. VP Harris’ campaign showed us enough of this nonsense. Someone shared that for a whole year, her teacher found a new way to mispronounce her African name, as a joke. It followed her for years and tore at her budding self-esteem.

6. For years I felt sad because my parents never gave me English names. Today I know that was the colonialist blues mentality speaking and I’m proud they didn’t give any of my siblings that – no offence to those that did. Instead of just giving any “English name”, I chose one that expresses my religious beliefs and reflects a character trait I would love him to embody all his life.

King C’s name gets misspelled sometimes. I’m not bothered as much and neither is he. The most important thing is that he knows that his dad and I just want to see him win at life.

No pressure, lol.

Which of these factors ring true to you? What’s your name and what does it mean?

Leave a comment and let me know.

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