Friday, November 17, 2006


The naming of Tristan Louis and Simon Francis

A couple of weeks ago, Chantal from Breadcrumbs in the Butter ran a lovely series of posts about how each of her four kids came to be named. I am fascinated by how people choose names, and always love to hear the story behind someone's name.

I suspect I might have already told the story of how Tristan and Simon got their names, partly because I so love the topic that I tend to talk about it often and partly because after 600+ posts, it's inevitable that I start to repeat myself. Those of you who know me in person are nodding vigourously at this point.

Regardless, because you know the topic of baby names had to come up eventually, and because I don't have anything else percolating for today, let's talk about names.

With Tristan, we always knew what his name would be. I don't remember exactly when we decided on it, but we were thrilled at the ultrasound to find out he was in fact a he because we were solid on the name of Tristan for a boy and had not even an inkling of a name for a girl.

Tristan was chosen because of Beloved's love of the Arthurian legends - King Arthur, knights of the round table, and whatnot, and I simply refused to allow any son of mine to be named Gwain or Galahad or Lancelot. Not that there's anything wrong with those names, if you happen to like them. But as soon as he said "what about Tristan?", I knew it was the one. (It didn't hurt that Brad Pitt had played the noble but wounded Tristan in Legends of the Fall just a few years before, either!)

Tristan's middle name was also an easy choice. My dad's name is Louis, Beloved's middle name is Lewis and his grandfather's name is Louis. We knew unequivocally that he was Tristan Louis from the time I was five months pregnant.

The sticky part came with his surname. I didn't change my last name when Beloved and I got married, and when I was pregnant we agreed that my surname would be a second middle name for any kids. But the more pregnant I got, the more important it became to me to have my surname equally represented. Unfortunately, our names hypenated are a bit of a mouthful, and Beloved was resistant to the idea.

We were still undecided when Tristan was born, but we were literally not allowed to leave the hospital until we completed a health card application for him - with his full name. We were all packed up, and Tristan was dressed in his going-home outfit, purchased specially by Granny. I was sitting on the bed and Beloved in the chair, and we glowered at each other, each unwilling to concede. In the end, Beloved capitulated, and I cried tears of relief as I filled out the form with the hyphenated surnames. There have been many times, as I spelled out his name for a pharmacist, or to make an appointment, that I silently apologized to him for saddling him with such a mouthful of a moniker. But mostly I'm proud that both boys carry my name, a name fairly unique and unusual, and I'll let them decide if they ever want to truncate it to a single name some day. To my surprise, I just noticed the other day when Tristan's first school picture came home that he is the only child in his class with a hypenated name.

The naming of Simon is a little bit less dramatic. Right up until he was born, we were vacillating between three names, even though Simon had been a front-runner in my mind even when we were naming Tristan. My brother had a friend named Simon when we were growing up, and he always struck me as kindly and thoughtful - two characteristics I attached to the name Simon. The other choices were Thomas and Lucas.

When Simon finally made his way into the world, 10 days past my due date and after nearly 30 hours of efforts to entice him to leave the womb, I knew when I saw him that he would definitely be Simon. Since we gave Tristan the name of Beloved's grandfather and my father as a middle name, we gave Simon the name of my grandfather and my mother (in masculine form) as a middle name. Simon Francis.

I worried a little bit about "Simon says" and "Simple Simon", and I even considered the impact of one of my childhood favourite shows, "Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings." Remember that theme song?

Oh, you know my name is Simon
And the things I draw come true.
And the pictures take me take me take me
Over the garden wall with you.

(Ironically, the Teletoon network here in Canada started running an updated version of that cartoon when I was home on maternity leave with Simon, but when I asked a young teenage acquantance of ours if he had ever had someone tease him about the song, he had no idea what we were talking about.)

In the end, of course, I love both names. I couldn't imagine them being named anything else.

Rest assured you can expect much more on the topics of baby names in the next six months! In the interim, care to share your baby naming stories?

Labels: ,