Archive for the 'The Old Country' Category

The baby name game

February 17, 2011

Andrew Hicks

Choosing baby names is tough. Luckily, I didn’t have to do it with either kid. Oh, I had my own name suggestions, but I ran into the same problem I always did when I looked through tattoo catalogs and stuff: There were ones I was fond of, ones I was ambivalent about and ones I knew I didn’t like, but none of them seemed good enough to commit to for life.

When we found out we were having a girl*, Tiffany came up with the name Sarah Grace. I was sold on Grace immediately — it’s an old name up Tiffany’s family tree, and it’s the name of the church and private school I grew up attending. And the name Sarah has always been a beautiful one to me. I thought it common but not too common, traditional but not too traditional.

Our only debate was whether to include the “H” on the end. I lobbied for Sara with no H, but in the end, we (“we” meaning Tiffany, in this case) decided to go with the classic spelling. And, almost immediately, I was glad we did. It seems weird to say, but even from a newborn, my Sarah was a Sarah with an “H,” not a Sara with no “H.”

Had Sarah been a boy, Tiffany wanted to name him Andrew Justin, after me, and call him A.J. (My mom tells me my grandpa tried to get everyone to call me A.J., but it never really caught on.) I wasn’t completely comfortable with the idea of having my own Junior. Naming a kid after yourself has always seemed to me like an obnoxious form of egomania. Besides, having two people in the house with the same name would just lead to confusion.

I think we were about six months into the second pregnancy when Tiffany gave up on the idea of naming the baby Andrew Justin. She came out of left field with the name Silas**. We watch the show “Weeds” together, and one of its main characters is named Silas. And I knew there was a Silas in the New Testament somewhere. Otherwise, I’d never met or heard of anyone with that name.

Each of our mothers initially thought it a poor name choice — I can’t remember if it was my mom or Tiffany’s mom who said the name Silas for her conjured up the mental image of a fat, leather-skinned, middle-aged dude sitting on a rusty chair in the gravel parking lot of a nowhere Southern gas station. One of my own friends, when I told her we were going with Silas for a name, asked, “Why? Is he from the Old Country?”

But when Tiffany and I mentioned the name Silas to the younger generation (my then-17-year-old stepson Josh and his friends, some high school kids I used to work with, et al), they pretty much universally agreed it was a cool name.

I wasn’t fully sold on Silas, but I had nothing better to counter with. I liked it, but I didn’t like it. It was a cool name, but it was a weird name. I had the thought in the back of my head that we would change his name at the very last second to something more mainstream. But they cut my wife open, pulled out that screaming male newborn, and we named him Silas. The second the name was in ink and official, I was sure it was the right name for my youngest child. And hindsight has only further 20/20’d that.

She’s a Sarah, he’s a Silas. I love them and their names.

* Actually, it was never a sure thing, because Sarah was always in very modest positions during the sonograms, but after getting the clearest view of the junk area that she could, one of our sonogram technicians told us she was 80 percent sure our baby was a girl.

** We had already decided the middle name would be David, which is my dad and my brother’s middle name. There was no existing tradition of that name being passed down the Hicks line — my mom says she thought of it for my brother completely independently of it being my dad’s middle name — but I guess there is now.


Sarah plays with crayons that were in much better shape before she got hold of them.