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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Baby Boy Kaufman

Bethany writes:
Hello! My husband, Scott and I are expecting our first baby, due October 13th! We found out that we are having a boy and are very excited! The only problem is coming up with a wonderful name that we both like and know he will love as well. My husband and I both want his name to be cute and fun for when he is a little baby and boy and something that transitions to masculine when he is adult. I LOVE LOVE LOVE all old fashioned 50’s names for boys, but my husband is not as keen on them as I am. I loved the names “Graham”, “Reid” and “Grady” but my husband hates all of them. He says they are not “manly” enough. We did however come to an agreement on two names…. “Jack” and “Oliver.” I really wanted to name him Jack after my grandpa who I was deeply close with, who passed away a few years ago. My grandpa’s name was actually John, but everyone called him Jack. However, my sister also recently had a baby boy, born July 12th and they decided to name him Elliott Jack. They used the name Jack as a middle name because her husband’s father’s name was Jack, but now I feel like I can not use it since she did. I also feel she might be offended if I use Jack and we really do not want to step on anyone’s toes. So that leaves us with the name “Oliver” which we both love! However…we have had several people express how much they hate it. We have decided to use “Jonah” as the middle name, because we both like that name and feel it flows nicely. The naysayers who do not like the name (including my own dad) say he will be called “OJ” (which I hate) and “Ollie” (which I don’t really care for but my husband LOVES!) I know if we name him Oliver, my husband Scott is going to call him “Ollie” all of the time.

I should explain how the name Oliver came up as a suggestion as well. For the first 5 months of my pregnancy I was incredibly sick with “morning – all day” sickness. I would see everything I ate again… it was awful. But, for some weird reason the only thing that I always wanted that made me feel better instantly was to eat Green Olives. I eat about a half a jar of green olives everyday! My husband joked that all of the Olives would turn the baby into an Oliver (I thought for sure I was having a girl) and apparently they did because we are having a BOY! Well… the name sort of stuck and now we are in a bind since a lot of friends and family are not on board. We would love any suggestions you would have for us! It’s less than three months away now, and I would love to have his name settled for sure! Please help us!!

Thank you so much!!

P.S. I should also tell you that we have an English Bulldog named Ruby.

There are two basic and widely-experienced issues here: the sister-used-the-name issue, and the some-people-hate-the-name issue.

I think you should talk to your sister. My own temperament wouldn't stretch to asking her outright if she'd mind if you used the name Jack, so I won't suggest the direct approach to you either, but you could raise the subject casually and then gauge her reaction. Like, bring up the subject of baby names, mention a few names you're considering, and then say, "We were thinking of Jack, after grandpa..." and see if she startles or if her eyebrows go mad-shaped or if she says "But WE used Jack!" And then if necessary you can back down quickly ("But then you used it, so THAT'S out! Ha ha! Obviously! Ahem!") and be no worse off than you are now. Or maybe she will say, "Ohhhhh, how sweet!" or "You totally should!," and then think how happy you'll be.

For one thing, she used it as a middle name, and the middle name is just not the same as the first name: people don't tend to feel as possessive about it, and it's much more common to have duplications---especially in an extended family where a bunch of people might want to honor the same ancestor. For another thing, she was honoring her father-in-law, perhaps mostly because it was something her husband wanted to do, whereas you'd be honoring your grandfather. It would be hard to argue that once one person has been honored, no one else with that same name may be honored, not even someone from a completely different family. But if she DOES in fact argue that very thing, at least you know for sure she feels that way, instead of possibly giving up the name for nothing.

Or, you could use John. It's definitely not as satisfying as using the nickname your grandfather mostly went by, but it WAS his given name, and you'll know it's "after grandpa." And it may be better than not getting to name a child after him at all. And John Kaufman has a wonderful sound.

As for people hating the name, it is a sad thing about baby-naming that EVERY SINGLE NAME has some people who hate it. EVERY name. There are no exceptions: the name you give this baby WILL be hated by some people. This doesn't mean I'm in the "Screw what everyone else thinks, it's MY choice!!" camp---far from it. I can easily empathize with their desire to love the name of an important baby in their lives---and I can easily picture how I'd feel if the name of an important baby in my life was one from my "Ug, I can't STAND that name!" list. But because every name will be hated by some people, it depends on things such as WHO hates the name, and HOW MANY of them there are, and WHY they hate the name, and how likely they are to come around to it with time, and how likely they are to hate ANY name I like. People from other generations classically dislike the names the current generation of parents is using: their complaints are typically that a name is weird, or that it's old-personish. (We will likely feel the same about the names of our grandchildren, although it helps that we are keeping our baby-name muscles exercised here.) And sometimes people just have completely different naming styles: perhaps you don't like the names they used for THEIR children, either---and yet they still used those names, perhaps without consulting everyone first.

In the case of your nay-sayers, it sounds like their primary objection is the initials with the chosen middle name. Is this something you could fix without stress? If your reasons for using it are just that you like the name and it flows nicely, are you willing to save that name for a possible future child, and find another name you like equally well that flows nicely but doesn't start with J? This might not stop the objections, of course: sometimes people who don't like a name come up with "legitimate reasons" for not liking it---but if those reasons were removed, they still wouldn't like it. But it's worth a try, if it's something you'd be willing to do. There are lots of two-syllable names with a similar flow:

Oliver Eli Kaufman
Oliver Ezra Kaufman
Oliver Henry Kaufman
Oliver Leo Kaufman
Oliver Levi Kaufman
Oliver Matthew Kaufman
Oliver Micah Kaufman
Oliver Noah Kaufman
Oliver Phillip Kaufman
Oliver Riley Kaufman

Or it's a great place for a name one of you likes that the other one likes okay but doesn't want to use as a first name. Oliver Grady Kaufman, for example. Or it's a good place for a family name: perhaps Oliver Scott Kaufman.

Another thing to keep in mind is that people tend to come around to a name even if they disliked it at first. In fact, it's common for them to say later on things such as "When I first heard the name, I HATED it! *merry laugh of how hilarious this is now that they love it*" and "What are you talking about? I ALWAYS loved that name!" Once an actual little sweetie-biscuit is on the scene, the name has an entirely different feel to it. (In fact, you might find you end up loving the nickname Ollie: we've had commenters mention on nickname-related posts that they've completely changed their point of view on a nickname they thought they couldn't stand, once the child was born and turned out to be Exactly Right for that nickname.)

It sounds like you have several really good reasons for using the name Oliver. I think at this point it's a matter of whether you think your dad and the others will get over it, and/or how important it is to you to have unanimous agreement in your circle about your child's name. If you decide to use Oliver, I'd suggest saying to your dad (and to others) gently and with a touch of affectionate humor that you just want to give him the heads-up that you're planning to use the name he doesn't like, so he should start bracing himself for that. And perhaps you can soothe him with a different middle name (perhaps HIS name would work?).

Also, I have one name suggestion: if you like Graham and Grady and Reid, I wonder if Grant would be manly enough for your husband.


Anonymous said...

Oliver is fantastic, use it! You have a wonderful story to go with it, which just makes it more meaningful. Forget what others say, as soon as they meet your son they'll be convinced. really, it's not like you made up a name here :)

OJK are great initials, I wouldn't worry about his nickname becoming OJ (OK seems more likely, if at all). A possible nickname, if you don't like Ollie (which is so cute!), could be Vero or Rev?

I also think Jonah or Jack Oliver is fantastic! What about using James instead- and using Jack as a nickname, or Jay or Jamie? James Gregor(y) comes to mind.

Ashley, Kyle, and Baby Boy said...

our first born is Reid and we never ever thought about it not being a manly name. i look at it as a very sophisticated, strong, assertive name...and a little bit preppy. we paired it with a classic middle name to give it 'girth'...Harrison. (great option for a first name for you too.) what about Harrison Reid- talk about sounding manly!!!?? Oliver sounds TOO old to me.....i always put 'baby' in front of the name and then MR. - to see how it will sound as an infant and then as an adult (as here in the south, the kids often call guy Mr. tom, etc.) Baby Oliver and Mr Oliver- hmmm....i'd keep searching. ....just my opinion. What about Campbell?? it's in the same style as those you have listed....

Ashley said...

I agree that Oliver is a wonderful name! I like Oliver Jonah...but Oliver Jack or Oliver John is equally as appealing! And I doubt that he will be called OJ. For one, that's hardly a combo in use anymore thanks to a Certain Someone, and secondly, kids are rarely nicknamed with their initials unless they are the ones who start it. How often do you even know a person's middle name, really?

A lengthy aside: It seems like people go out of their way to search for random, negative associations with a name sometimes. I heard someone say of the name Paxton recently, "you know that they'll just call her "packs on" if she's fat, right??" REALLY? Who thinks of that? lol. You can find bad with ANY name (I've been called "Trashley" and we used to call my friend Jessica "Mess-ica"), but that shouldn't dissuade you from using the name unless it's truly horrid (Dorcas).

Anonymous said...

I think you should talk to your sister. In my large family (about 20 cousins) we all seem to share names, and I have never heard from my mom or aunts that it was a problem. One of my middle names is actually my younger cousins first name, and I love it! It makes you feel close to them. Jack is a wonderful name, and even better that you can honor your grandfather.

AirLand said...

Oliver's great. I find it hard to find a reason why anyone would hate it. It's a normal name. And you have a cute story to go with it.

I agree that he probably wouldn't be called OJ unless you started that.

But it sounds like you'll have to live with your husband calling him Ollie if you use it. You just have to decide if you can live it. I think it's cute.

Kathleen said...

Warning, when saying Jack Kaufman out loud, the last name sounds like Off Man. Not a good combo with Jack. Sorry to say.

Swistle said...

Kathleen- HA HA HA!

StephLove said...

John Oliver (nn Jack)? Initials would be J.O. and you'd be able to call him Jack.

Since you had a couple Gr names on your list, how about Griffin, or Garrison (can't complaint that one's not manly) or Garrett?

Brenda said...

Great point on Jack Kauffman!

I love, love, love Oliver! I say go with it.

beyond said...

I love Oliver! (Use it!) It was on our list for a while, but, like you, my husband can't stand the nn Ollie, so I finally ceded.
Re: Jack, I agree that talking to your cousin is a good idea. A slightly younger cousin of mine has my mn as her first (not a family name). I have cousins who have used grandparents' names as mn for their kids, and I personally don't think that would discourage me from using the same name as a first. Like Swistle says, a mn is much less personal than a first.
John is the other great option. John Scott Kaufman, maybe?
If you end up using Jack or John, you could use Olivia (or Olive! Swoon!) for a future girl...
Good luck!

Doing My Best said...

I love the name Oliver too! A few years ago I knew a teenage boy named Oliver, and I thought it was a great name! And I think it's wonderful that you would have the story to go with it!

Anonymous said...

My favorite option is John Oliver Kaufman. I am nervous about the Jack Kaufman sounding naughty. You could always use your son's mn as his go-by name to avoid the initials OJ and OK. John Oliver Kaufman, nn Oliver/Ollie/Olive.

My second favorite is Oliver Scott Kaufman, assuming your husband's name is Scott. Oliver Prescott Kaufman sounds lovely, too, if that is your hubby's name.

Good luck!

Leslie said...

While I do LOVE the name Oliver, I'm a big fan of using family names. John Kaufman, called Jack, would be an incredibly handsome name, and I don't think it would impinge on your sister's naming rights to use it (though I do agree it would be polite to let her know in advance).

That said, if you decide to go for Oliver, it is a terrific name. (And I personally think Ollie is adorable as a nickname, but you can choose to use the full name only if it bothers you.) You really only have good choices; your little guy is going to be well-named no matter what! Best of luck to you and your family!

kimma said...

I agree that you should raise the issue with your sister before discarding Jack altogether... if it truly is your preferred name I wouldn't imagine she'd be upset for you to use it.

I wonder if you do have reservations about both Jack and Oliver, why you don't use Jonah as the first name. Jonah Oliver Kauffman sounds grea.

Jamie L said...

Love Oliver and Jack... I think they would make a great sub set! Having a name that YOU love is worth it--ask your sister about using Jack!

Bethany said...

Oh my! So much to think about now! Thank you so much Swistle for all of your good suggestions! I really love the combination of Oliver Grady! I will have to go over these new "options" with Scott, my husband! Thank you too for the other suggestions everyone! We really appreciate it! Very creative! :) We will let everyone know our official decision soon!


~Bethany Kaufman

MamaK said...

I just want to add my 2 cents to the relatives-hating-the-name-before-its-officially-given...

Um, we were those dorks once. My brother and his wife had picked out a boy name (Taliesin) and a girl name (Raven), very early on, and shared them with our family. Mostly, we all reacted as "huh?" and then "oh, no. don't do it". And in a week or so, little "Tali" (think allison or ally with a T in the front) will be 9, and it's hard to imagine him as any other name!

So if you really, really love it, maybe just go with it!