Friday, May 27, 2011

Mon petit chou

Straightaway, let me reveal that my daughter has a Cabbage Patch Kid name.

This is a subject I’d been looking forward to exploring when I foisted last week’s post on you (remember, the rigorous and intellectually stimulating epistle on the subject of library storytime for babies?), but I ran out of time, and my tale was already getting longish. So today my theme will receive its due attention.

The subject, dear Reader, is names.

Specifically, baby names. A certain genre of name, you know, is prevalent among Bee’s immediate peers. Usually old-fashioned, often elegant or literary, and certainly never plain, these sweet, quirky names are generally not as far afield as, say, the unfathomable Gertrude, but are significantly off-center of Emma. I’m talking about, for example, Astrid and Finnegan. And Hattie, and Eleanor, and Pearl. Not everyone’s cup of tea, maybe, but, what can I say, I find these names adorable. Ben and I refer to them as Cabbage Patch Kid* names, and have noticed that the parents of babies of Bee’s age and socio-economic-cultural group tend to embrace them.

In fact, it was at library storytime, surrounded by tiny Mabels and Hazels and Archies, that the prevalence of these pretty, heirloom-y names first became clear to me; all those Astrids and Henrys and Violets and Stellas make you feel like you’re perusing 1933 census data. And I appreciate and approve of these antique names, having given my own daughter an indisputable Cabbage Patch Kid name that shall not be divulged herein. (I know, believe it or not, her legal name is not actually Bumblebee Carrot-flower, as I may have implied elsewhere in the archives.)

Ben and I chose Bee’s name because it’s pretty, it’s distinctive but not (in our opinion) weird, it’s thousands of years old (and ancient is even cooler than old-fashioned!), and it’s rife with potential nicknames in case our girl wants to shorten it. And I’ll say right now that reactions to Bee’s name tend to range from genuine delight, to confused surprise, to resigned silence. Sometimes strangers even chuckle, although I’m never sure what’s so funny. I can’t imagine what kind of reactions the brave, long-suffering parents of Henriettas and Ursulas encounter each day.

What do you think, dear Readers? Did you (or shall you) give your little one a Cabbage Patch Kid name?

* Xavier Roberts famously gathered the names for his CPK dolls from a 1930s book of baby names, and I hereby dedicate this footnote to Cabbage Patch Kids I have known: Bronwyn Janet, Jocelyn Ardra, and Clarissa Edina.


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