Naming kids is hard, and right now I have about a 50% success rate. Poor kid.

Ok, let me start with a bit of a disclaimer here.

When I started this blog, I never set out to keep our names a secret.  Using the initials was just a THING, you know, like all the cool kids were doing.  I mean, hell, if you're reading this, you know my address, and if you want to do my harm via the internet, you are probably smarter than my whole "let's just use initials so as to remain incognito" bit.

So anyway, back to me.

Before zj was born, RJ and I did everything right.  We read all the baby books, bought half a dozen books on how to name your kid, debated names for hours, even days.  There were, however, a couple of sticking points that were hard for me to get past.

According to RJ, NO MATTER WHAT,  PUNISHABLE BY DEATH, FOREVER AND EVER AMEN, the firstborn son of the firstborn son was ALWAYS named Robert.  It wasn't up for discussion. At all.  The boy would be named Robert, and it would be good.

Whatever.  I'm sneaky.  manipulative. persuasive when I need to be, and I convinced him that we could name the kid Robert and call him by his middle name.  That way, we were technically in the right and not in danger of being beheaded by the Robert-gods and we got to call the kid whatever we wanted.  That was probably mistake number one.

Mistake number two, which I still feel like was great in spirit if not necessarily in execution, was the decision to pick a second middle name of Vietnamese origin.

Of course, the major problem with that is that neither one of us speak Vietnamese.

So we did what all terrified good little Vietnamese children do, and we asked RJ's mother for suggestions.  She came up with a list.  Most of the names on the list were longish and hard to pronounce.  They would also be hard for this redneck white girl to remember, 'cause none of then rhymed with Earl, or was followed by Joe.  But one name on the list seemed doable.  An_Loc.  According to RJ's mom, this was the name of the city in which she was born.  How wonderful, right?

As I was in the hospital filling out the birth certificate request before ZJ was even born, I had a terrible feeling about the whole thing.  We were going to name this sweet little baby a really long name, some of it in another language, AND we were going to call him by one of his two middle names.  I panicked a bit, but plowed on through, and he became Robert Zachary An_Loc J.  But we were going to call him Zachary, which at about day three got shortened to Zackie and has stuck ever since.

Within weeks of his birth during an impromptu visit from my mother-in-law, as she was dispairing cooing over his round blue eyes, she mentioned again how pleased she was that we had chosen a Vietnamese name for him.  I was so proud.  I had FINALLY done something to please her.  Finally.  Finally.  Then she mentioned sort of offhandedly "An_Loc first Vietnamese city to be bombed and destroyed by Americans, you know."

No, sadly, I didn't know that.

Epic. Fail.

When I was pregnant with cj, the discussion went something like this.

Me: "I think we should name him Cooper."  Cooper was RJ's Grandma's maiden name and also the name of a really hot doctor guy from Private Practice.  "You can pick the middle name."
RJ: "I like Lee" which is RJ's Dad's middle name.
Me: Done.

And so Cooper Lee J came into the world, and his name was simple and pronounceable and the right length and good.  He's never been thought of or called anything else.  And I suspect he never will be.

But I still worry about zj and his name.  He's going to have to spend THE REST OF HIS LIFE explaining it to people.  "No, I don't go by Robert.  I go by Zachary." "Yes, I have two middle names." "Yes, one of them is an unpronounceable Vietnamese word." "Yes, it's the name of a city." "Yes, I know it's the name of a city that signifies destruction to Vietnamese people everywhere."  You get the picture.

I've gotten as far as Googling "legal name change" but I'm afraid to face the wrath of the Robert-gods.  So I've decided to leave it up to him.  Maybe he'll grow into it.  Maybe he'll come to love it.  Or maybe he'll never forgive me for it.

I'll keep you posted.


  1. *laughing out loud* MILs can be sneaky, sneaky people!

    I misnamed my children. If I had it to do over, they would both have different names. Monkey (who isn't actually Monkey, of course) would keep his middle name but get a new first name. And Sparkle, who isn't actually Sparkle, would get a complete makeover. I blame the anesthesia for my son's name and blood loss for my daughter's ;) I did try to change both of them shortly after birth, especially my daughter's, but DJ (who, in the interest of full disclosure is not named DJ or has the initials DJ) refused. Refused!! I still hold a grudge about that one.

    Naming kids is hard. Hard, hard, hard. And that's without a Vietnamese mother-in-law.


  2. Oh dear. Does this post have anything to do with my children not understanding ZJ's second middle name and asking him to repeat it at least a million times? Does it?


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