We’ve made a little…

We've made a little progress on the baby naming front; Kevin and I both feel it would be rather nice to use a middle name of McLeod, which is not only Kevin's middle name (which I knew) but his father's middle name (which I didn't know). I love tradition, and I like the sound of the name too. So now we need to find another name/names that go reasonably well with McLeod Whyte. We're also agreed on baby boy having a Tamil first name, like his sister.

The name/names thing is a bit of an issue, though. Kavi has four names. I have four names. My sisters and parents have four names. Four names seems quite normal to me, and in fact, the bare minimum for how many names you can get away with. I quite happily stuck my full confirmation name onto my name for several years, giving me six names, which was much nicer, I thought: Mary Anne Amirthi Kateri Tekakwitha Mohanraj. It was the one good thing about being Catholic. And the only good part about the idea of taking Kevin's name if we got married would be that I'd then have seven names! Seven! (Mary Anne Whyte as a short form would be a little ludicrous for me, though). The point being, four names good.

But Kevin's family is a three-name family. He has three names, as does his sister, his parents, etc. and so on. He feels three names are totally sufficient, and he does not seem to comprehend the total wrongness of his position. Kevin does not hear the very universe crying out in grieved protest. And as he keeps reminding me, it's his turn to name the baby, so if Kev wants just three names, that's the way it's going to go. To which I must bend my head and dutifully agree.

Which means it's up to you guys to explain to him how this poor little boy is going to be totally deprived, miserable, and bitterly jealous of his sister, if we give him only three paltry names. I'm relying on you. So is baby [name] [name] McLeod Whyte. Or possibly [name] McLeod [name] Whyte. Either is fine with me; I'm not picky.

16 thoughts on “We’ve made a little…”

  1. My poor father only had _two_ names. I don’t know whether it was because his parents were unimaginative, or just didn’t care, but I’ve always joked that it was because they were poor and couldn’t afford a middle name.

  2. Catherine Noujaim

    Well, I know the thought of a child growing up and not liking his name are infinitesimal, but having four names gives the kid a better option to be able to choose a name he likes for himself. Because a kid calling himself Mcleod (much as I like the name, as well as Highlander) will be teased.

    Give your kid a fighting chance! Let him have four names! (The kids in my CCD class loved the idea of choosing their own name at Confirmation, and it doesn’t sound like that is in the cards for your kids…)

  3. I love the idea of seven names. Seven! Although I imagine that would be unwieldy when filling out forms. Which names would you leave in? Which would you drop out?

    I guess that’s what I would wonder about with using four. are you able to fit Kavya’s full name on forms? If not, how do you handle them?

    I am not suggesting that this is how you should make a decision one way or the other, but I’m curious about this practical aspect of it.

  4. I’ve always felt short-changed, not solely because I have only three names, but more because my middle name is “an old family last-name” rather than “a name I could choose to be called by”. If I had a fourth name that gave me a sort of option, I’ve always imagined I would have been happier.

    My paternal grandfathers had four names, and somewhat oddly the maternal great-grandfather after whom I drew my first and middle names (his first and last) had four names. I’ve always thought (a) their names were particularly nifty for the four-ness, and (b) it tremendously improved their initials, both spoken and in monogram forms.

    Also, my classmates with four names (especially those who could go by their second name) were widely perceived as cool for this fact by both myself and my other classmates with only three names.

    So I think you are totally right here and Kevin, while I understand where he’s coming from, is wrong.

    On the other question, could you insert Whyte in the penultimate position? Would that please you and also please Kevin? Or would he find it more odd if you take his name but don’t “put it last and switch to using it” than if you simply don’t take it at all?

    Consider also, in this time of naming, that that there is a certain “pleasure and happiness of having a Q in your name”, though should your child someday come across a gold bucksin whincher odd things may happen.

  5. Jenna is right. I have four names. It used to be a complete pain on official forms. Most forms are equipped to deal with one initial and only one initial; this led to rampant inconsistencies and drove me bonkers.

    These days, I don’t use either middle name, and have successfully gotten ’em removed from everything except my Social Security card. (And, umm, my domain name. But never mind that…)

    Three names is enough. 🙂

  6. Hmmm…Well, if it’s his chance to name the baby, and he really decides to exercise full authority and run with that… What if he chooses a moniker that doesn’t fit for the third name? And what if he picks another name you don’t like for the 4th spot? Like,

    Steed Nubian MacLeod Whyte – or,
    just Steed McLeod Whyte?

    If you decide together, then why not go for 4 names? Why be like everyone else in the US? Tell him this is another way he can buck the system and let the world know that Kevin Whyte is a wild stallion who cannot be tamed.

    Reading these responses has made me realize how much I’ve neglected my third (middle) name! I see how I’ve treated it with indifference, but y’all have inspired me to develop some name-ly pride! (:

  7. My kids (boys) both have 4 names because we wanted to incorporate both my last name & my husband’s last name w/o hyphenation. So far one of the names just ends up dropping off official forms, even if I add it myself (I just put both middle names in the middle name section). Despite a somewhat meticulous/rule-following nature, I’ve decided just to ignore that the bureaucracy doesn’t agree with me on the “allowed” number of names!

    Both boys (ages 4 & 2.5) love repeating all 4 of their names & also love us to tell them the story/history behind all of their names.

  8. Three names for caucasian dames here in U.S.
    Seven for Sri Lankans in their Catholic schools;
    Four is the minimum, Mary Anne says;
    Two names are just insufficiently cool.

    (Although, weren’t you the one who explained to me that some South Asian guys have only one name?)

    …If you want a certain amount of gravitas that the kid will likely discard, you could stick with three names but make the first two long and unwieldy and unusual. (I speak from experience here.)

    …As for giving them more names to choose from, plenty of people just choose names they like. (In fact, you could do what one couple did and decline to give the kid any name at all until he’s old enough to choose one for himself!)

  9. Kevin MUST allow 4 names. Speaking as a child in a family where the 2 favorite children have 4 names, it is demoralizing, bad for one’s self-esteem and always puts you at a disadvantage from your sibling. You know, the one they love more.

    My oldest brother and sister both have 4 names. My next brother and I are the after thoughts with just 3 names. It’s like they didn’t give a damn by the time they got to us. Like they had used up all their good names and we got what crap was left.

    This has pissed me off for 35 years. I figured the name thing out when I was 4. I’m not joking either. I have a frown line on my forehead right now, just thinking of the injustice of it all.

    Both of our kids have 4 names. It gives them options. Right now, they love their names. If they hate it later, they have ‘normal’ names to fall back on.

    For the record, I have 4 names now. Thanks Jason. I kept my maiden name. Now I too am special.

  10. “I figured the name thing out when I was 4.”

    …when I was 4 I figured out that so-called germs were just an adult conspiracy. I believed a lot of ridiculous things when I was 4.

  11. Mary Anne Mohanraj

    Shmuel, I think she was saying that she figured out that she only had 3 names to her siblings’ 4 when she was 4. Factual, not ridiculous. 🙂

    Re: the names on forms, it’s never been a practical issue for me. I put Mary Anne Mohanraj or Mary A. Mohanraj on most forms, depending on what they allow. The only things that I have the whole Mary Anne Amirthi Mohanraj on are forms that require my full legal name — i.e., government forms. And those have enough room, in my experience.

  12. My family are all 3 name people, as are my husband’s. My first child has 3 names, but we got the second kid’s name wrong, so when we changed it to the right one, we left the original 3 there, and added the new one in front – hence 4 names. So when kid #3 came along, we gave her 4 names which allowed each of us to choose names.

    I wonder whether one day we’ll need to give kid 1 another name?

    I can see how the second kid might feel gypped if he has only 3 names while Kavi has 4…. Does Kevin really want to listen to “Didn’t you love me enough to give me 4 names?” for the rest of his life? 🙂

  13. I think that when it comes to names short and sweet works better than numerous and/or unweildy. Long and unwieldy = more chance of mistakes … which need to be corrected. If not, you get “Ma’am/ Sir will you please step this way” at airports, etc. Not convenient when the next flight leaves in 10 minutes.
    A name like, say, Ravi McLeod Whyte is short, unusual enough to be ID-theft “proof” (well, easier to trace than John Adam Smith), and hopefully not liable to be butchered an inconvenient number of times. The initials don’t spell anything embarrassing and I presume that a name like Ravi would be easily pronounced by native speakers of many languages.

  14. It does seem to be a matter of what is too unwieldy.

    I just read somewhere that the airports are going to start getting tougher on name discrepancies between ID and tickets (not Jane Jones vs. Jane Smith, but Jane Jones vs. Jane J. Jones vs. Jane G. Jones). Anything that makes flying less of a hassle, I’m in favor of.

  15. Just make sure that whatever you decide, the original documents (birth certificate, etc.) are accurate. 🙂 I have a two-word first name, Amy Jo, and no middle name. Although I generally go by AJ, the name thing has occasionally caused me difficulty on official forms when I try to explain that ‘Amy Jo’ really is meant to be listed as my first name, and nothing whatsoever should be listed under my middle name.

    I am sure, however, that whatever names you choose will be musical and meaningful and your child will be happy to grow up knowing how important choosing his name was to his parents. My mother told me once that before she knew I was a girl she considered naming me Tad. Ah, the horror…

  16. I’m generally on the side that says both sibs should have the same number of names. I’m also thinking that if your kid ever decides to go into business, a Tamil name could be a disadvantage and there are some issues with using McLeod as your name which means a 4th “business-acceptable” name could be advantageous. I’d like to think the world will change before your kid gets old enough for it to be an issue, but I’m a bit cynical.

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