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Their baby’s famous, but ours came first

By NATHALIE HARDY | Yamhill Valley News-Register

SEP 2, 2008 | COMMUNITY

Nathalie’s Notes: As I’m editing my book I thought it’d be fun to share some of my earlier columns with you. In this one Sam is 11-months old. And Jake is maybe just starting to be an idea.

 


"Oh, no she didn't!”

I kept repeating it as I found myself wading in the shallow end of pop culture again, livid at the birth announcement for the world's most famous twins. 

"Why is this even news?" I muttered to no one in particular.

First, Angelina Jolie steals my boyfriend. Then, she has the nerve to give their love child the same name I so carefully chose for my son, thereby changing the conversation he will have about it for the rest of his life.

Second only to becoming parents, what to name our baby is the biggest decision my husband and I have made. It was no easy feat, as both of us worked in public schools, where we were exposed to the best and worst associations with many names.

Then, there was the fact that we each had some baggage with our own names. 

Matt's parents, who swear they never hit the peace pipe or go on gambling binges, gave all three of their children names with 21 letters.

For Matt, this meant dropping one of the 't's commonly used in Matthew. It also meant spending most of his school years as 'Matt H.'

Then there was me.

As a painfully shy kid, I dreaded roll on the first day of school. The teacher would call out, "Anna," then pause while she struggled with the rest of my name. "Naythalee Orvateez?" 

"It's Oravetz," I'd explain. "And the Anna and the 'h' in Nathalie are silent."

I'd cringe at the snickers behind me as the teacher corrected her roster. 

We thought we'd spared Sam all of that first-day-of-school awkwardness when we finally settled on "Samuel Knox." His first name is a classic and his middle name is unique, in addition to being meaningful to us.

Our son's name contains our hopes for the person he will become: confident, easy-going, creative and true to himself. We figured he'd pick which one he wanted to use as he made his way through life. 

We got a lot of flak from both sides of the family about our selection, but we paid little mind and filled out his birth certificate as planned.

Then, a few months later, it happened. My son's unique name was hijacked by Angelina Jolie and thrust into the spotlight of public opinion. 

I was devastated when Brad and Angelina named their son "Knox." What started as a meaningful name for us for our first born would forever elicit this response: "Knox? Like Brangelina's kid?"

Lest you think I exaggerate the potential ramifications of this disaster, I assure you Brad and Angelina have serious pull with name rankings. According to the Social Security Administration's website, Maddox and Shiloh - the names of two of Jolie-Pitt's children - are steadily climbing in popularity. If Sam decides to go by his middle name, he may end up being a "Knox H."

Flash forward to Sam's first day of school. His teacher will raise her eyebrows and try not to roll her eyes as she pegs us as celebrity fanatics.

I will, of course, teach Sam to say, "I was born first." But it will be too late. Assumptions will be made.

To find out the top baby names in Oregon, visit www.socialsecurity.gov. The site features a list of the 1,000 most popular names for each year since 1880.

For the record, 'Knox' hasn't made the top 1,000 since 1888. 

I hope Sam likes his name. I really do.

But whether my son thinks his name is good, bad or indifferent, I hope he grows up to be the kind of guy who knows that the names we are given are far less important than the one we make for ourselves.

Nathalie Hardy is a local freelance writer who can be found at random hours, taking notes as she walks Sam in his stroller. She invites your feedback - provided it doesn't include the phrase "unfit mother" - at nathaliesnotes AT gmail DOT com.

****

Question: I’m planning to publish the columns as they ran originally. But I’m also thinking of writing some of my current thoughts/notes in the margins. For instance on this one, I’m thinking of adding the stats and story on Jake’s name. And a story about how I wanted to start calling him by his middle name, Henry, because it was less common. Until the lady next to me at the park stood up and called for her son, Henry, to stop walking up the slide.

Yes? No? Just leave it as is and save the rest for the scrapbooks?

And – also – mostly, I think  my target audience is anyone who has a child, or is one – so wide range there, right? But, I’m also thinking of putting in some notes on the process of how these columns came to be. Some are more interesting than others, but is anyone outside the newsroom interested in that kind of thing?

Decisions, decisions.

(I really am asking for your opinions, email me or find me on Facebook at Nathalie’s Notes.)

 

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