Naming a boy is nearly the hardest part of actually having one, I’d say. Naming a girl would be difficult because there would be so many sweet names, it’d be hard to narrow the list down to one. But naming a boy is a different animal altogether. It seems that most boys names are either well suited for small children, or specifically masculine and tough to get to stick to a young baby. And once you’ve found a name seems to apply to both a child and an adult, it has to pass the next test; Ryan’s playground test. A name is not complete until my husband has sat and made fun of it every way possible. For instance, we talked about the name “Trey”, as I like unique names and Trey is the lead singer in a favorite band of Ryan’s. It seems fitting for a child, but I know of many men named Trey that seem masculine enough… Trey does not pass Ryan’s naming test. How could I not realize that Trey could be called AshTrey or Treylor Trash? (Come to think of it, trey would lend itself to some great derby names….) It got to the point that we just read baby naming books outloud and waited for Jake to kick to tell us that he liked a particular name. Unfortunately, Jake would’ve preferred an Arabic name that I couldn’t have pronounced or every memorized the spelling on, so we chose to go a different way.
We threw around the idea of naming Jake after a Red Wing’s player, as we both loved the Red Wings. I was thinking of names like Scotty (Bowman), Chris (Draper), Nick (Lindstrom) and I had eventually settled on Brendan (Shanahan). These names were contemporary but classic. Meanwhile, Ryan was thinking stats… but I really didn’t think we could pull of Sergei or Vladimir… so he was somewhat content on Brendan also. Until the day Jake was born, we were confident this was his name. Our first son would be known as Brendan Edward.
Somehow, while I was putzing around the house, in the early morning hours, trying to calm myself and time my contractions, it occurred to me that I wanted his name to be Jacob Ryan. To this day, I have no idea where the name Jacob came from… but obviously I took the Ryan from his father. When I told my husband of my sudden change of heart, he gave me a questioning look, but ultimately, I was the one in labor, so he agreed and we moved on. My only justification for the name was that it could be shortened several ways. Jacob could be known as Jacob, Jake, Jake Ryan, JR, Junior, JR2… there were enough possibilities that there would be no way he could be completely unhappy with his name. It seemed to pass Ryan’s playground test as well. (Though we did miss the fact that we pretty much named him after Jake the Snake Roberts, minus 2 letters….and neither of us are real fond of WWE (or WWF at that time) wrestling. I doubt very much that Jake’s generation will ever be familiar with that idea, luckily.)
So, about 4 or 5 hours later, Jake arrived into the world, and we made his new name known to our family. We let my father in as the first visitor, as at that time, his cancer diagnosis was pretty grim and we were just ecstatic that he lived long enough to meet my first born. (Though luckily, he has beat that odds with his cancer, and he is still around to speak the story of beating death.) My father handed me Jake’s very first present, a Children’s Bible, as I handed Jake over to him to hold for the first time. As my father marveled at this new amazing little person born into the world, I opened up the Children’s Bible. Amazingly, I opened to a page in the middle, telling a story of Jacob watching the angels walking up and down the stairs to heaven. It was a beautiful story in the bible, even to a person who is a stranger to the church, to say the least. Though I spend very little time with Christian ideals, I am extraordinarily faithful, or full of faith, rather, and I recognized opening the bible to a page which had a name I had just picked out, seemingly randomly for my first born son to be a very good sign. (I later typed that passage, framed it, and hung it over his bed. I hope that Jacob dreams of angels…)
The name has always been very good to Jacob, until he made his kindergarten debut. Jacob came home from his first day of school very upset. When I questioned him as to what was wrong, he said there were 2 other Jacobs in his class and his teacher wanted him to be known as Jake. I told him that was okay with me, but all that mattered was how he felt about. Jacob made the decision that day he would be known as Jake from then on. Problem solved!
But then he came home the next day, equally as upset! Oh, Jake, what could possibly be wrong now????
“Mama, I can’t make a ‘K’. Why can’t I just be Jace?”
Poor kiddo. After spending all summer leading up to kindergarten learning to write his name correctly, he had to learn to write a new name with new letters. We sat down that night and practiced the ‘k’, but it turned out that the ‘e’ was even harder…. Eventually though, he could write his new name legibly. No harm done.
Obviously, Jacob, being a bible name for us was a coincidence, but to many, it is by design. The name Jacob has been the number one name for boys since 1996, largely because so many people chose to use classic bible names. And too bad for poor Jake, because the trend seems to only be getting worse…
Social Security releases a study of naming trends every year in honor of mother’s day, and I read them each year, because it comes in handy to be able to talk to expecting mothers about their thoughts on baby names. This year, I read that there’s a big trend toward using names from the popular book-made-movie series, Twilight. And although I’m a Twilight fan, (yeah, this embarrasses me too) I swear to you I named my children Jacob and (Benjamin) Edward far before the book took off and became so popular…
And yet, this information will probably not save Jake from encountering many other Jacob’s in his time, despite the fact he has mastered writing the letter “k”.