Did You Give Your Kid the Right Name?

Baby Sky(lar)
Once upon a time, seems like forever ago now, I was sloshing around the world all big and pregnant in the same pair of God-forsaken Old Navy overalls because I was too stubborn to waste at least a little money on maternity clothes. As a 19-year-old who made the foolish decision to get knocked up during the summer when all of her un-pregnant friends were out having fun at amusement parks and nightclubs and stuff, I had a lot of time on my hands. So quite a few of my baby name choices were inspired by stuff I saw on TV. 


For a time, I thought I’d name my upcoming bundle of baby girl joy Sydney because I always thought it was such a pretty name. Then Sydneys started coming out of the woodwork, so I ixnayed that and fell in love instead with Siani (pronounced see-ahh-nee), which I lifted from the beautiful broadcast reporter who did the local 6 o’clock news. My mom and grandmother were not loving that one, and I’m pretty sure they were praying against it as I started referring to the baby by that name.

Even though I liked it, Siani didn’t sit in my gut as The One, the absolute best possible name for my unborn Girl Child. You know, I just always felt like I could do better. I wanted something different and unique, but nothing with a traditional African-American-esque “-sha,” “-ika,” or “-ita” at the end. Not to be a snob, but we’ve got enough of those running around in my family.

Though I wanted her name to have meaning, and as much as I love my Nana and mom, I couldn’t saddle the child with a reincarnation of Mildred or Marie, which are the first names they’ve been living with their whole lives. Neither of them would’ve wanted me to, anyway, since they both think their own mothers could’ve done better. And I certainly didn’t want the baby’s name to be something that there are already 50 million gals answering to, like Jennifer or Tiffany or Heather.

Sitting through my umpteenth movie in one particular week, I watched Good Will Hunting with Matt Damon and Minnie Driver, whose character name was Skylar. And that, folks, was all she wrote. It was the first time I’d really heard that name — the first time I’d really paid attention to it, anyway — and when I unfurled my jumbo book of baby names, I was completely smitten when I learned that it means ‘scholar’ in Dutch.

(No matter that we don’t have not one Dutch bone in our bodies or any connection to anything Dutch whatsoever, sans family who lives in Pennsylvania Dutch country, but that’s a stretch.)

I 86’ed everything else on the list, gave her father a little input by adding his favorite name, Desirea, and it was a hit. Skylar Desirea. It still has a nice ring to it, even after all this time.

And boy oh boy, after 13 years of knowing and mothering her, I can say without a doubt that I made the right choice. Is she ever a Skylar, even though I’m not sure exactly how a Skylar is supposed to be or act or look. I just know that the name is befitting, and I haven’t come across another one since that I love as much or would seem to capture the essence of her her-ness as much as Skylar does. She’s not a big fan of it — does any kid ever pat their mama on the back and give her a commendation for giving them a great name? — but I suspect she’ll like it more and more as she grows up.

The one thing I learned from that first go-round is, if I have any more little ones I have the honor of naming, I will keep it to myself until after that little dude makes his or her grand debut and the birth certificate has been signed. Too many people have too many opinions and that crap starts to make you question yourself. (Maybe Julius is a little stuffy, after all? Does Libby really sound like a golddigger’s name?) I’ll just find something that me and The Man are happy with, something that’s fair to the baby, and keep everyone else in suspense until its first birthday.

Do you still like the name you choose for your child(ren)?

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