Think years ahead before naming your baby

Consulted by prospective parents on naming of their baby girl I handed over my copy of “Baby Names” bought in the distant past when I considered fiction writing, expressed my hope they would give the kid a recognized feminine name not an all-purpose Spencer or some such non-generic version that gives no hint of who you might be about to meet , then recounted my experiences based on years of sharing my name with our first daughter.

We didn’t choose my namesake to worm her into a rich grandparent’s will; no such prospect presented. Our choice was more of a bail payment. The hospital threatened to hold her hostage until we filled in all the blanks on her birth certificate.

Both my husband and I liked the name: all the letters sit above the line; it looks good as a signature; and I’ve always been proud of sharing the diminutive of my Dad’s name – Claude.

Until I was 20, movie star Claudette Colbert was the only namesake I knew of before a six year old moved into town to become best friends with my much younger cousins. Her arrival put my nose so out of joint cartoon witches were less deformed. To further dilute my specialness my cousins bestowed my nickname upon her. I felt doubly dispossessed.

Yet despite liking my name enough to share it with our daughter, she was ten months old before I conquered my self-consciousness and could call her anything but Sweetheart. Even today, five decades later, I still speak to her as Sweetheart, a quirk that swivels hopeful heads when I meet her in Terrace airport’s arrival lounge.

As naive parents, we had no idea of the confusions she and I would face along the years.

Insurances (both life and medical); hospital and doctors’ records; letters to the editor. All are prone to mixups. My letter to the editor of “The Province” critical of a government agency didn’t sit well with her employer until she drew attention to my address.

Optometrists sorted her contact lenses from my bifocals. Our family doctor separated her fractured ankle from my arthritic wrist.

Co-owners of names carry extra responsibilities to protect each other’s reputation. Suppose one passes a bad cheque, deals drugs or otherwise leads a blemished life?

Phone calls presented special befuddlements. We determined her calls from mine by asking, “Did you want to speak to Big Claudette or Little Claudette?” When both our weights zoomed, we revised the question to “Old Claudette or Young Claudette?” As we became touchy to our additional years, we compromised with “Claudette, the mom, or Claudette, the daughter?”

Any time we sent her a cheque, at her suggestion Dad signed. Otherwise, when she presented our cheque to her bank, tellers huddled with the Fraud Squad.

When she graduated from Langara’s journalism school and moved to Castlegar, we thought 1500 km distance would solve our identification dilemma. Not so.

Within weeks of her byline appearing on the pages of the “Castlegar News,” a former Terrace resident – by then living in the Kootenays – phoned her expecting to renew acquaintance with me. The caller’s cheery greeting was met with my daughter’s puzzled silence.

My conclusion is unless a sizeable inheritance hangs in the balance, becoming a Junior or a III isn’t worth the muddle that goes with sharing a parent’s first name. As golfer Jack Nicklaus, son of the Golden Bear, said, “Having the same first name opens some doors, but doesn’t hit any balls for you.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The plan to build a staircase to the Bench includes a channel to more easily transport bicycles up and down. (Photo courtesy City of Terrace)
Staircase to Bench subject of City grant application

Would connect lower Eby St. to upper Eby St.

The car was trapped, with its driver inside, in a ditch off Hirsch Creek Main near Onion Lake overnight Monday (Oct. 19). Oct. 20, 2020. Kitimat RCMP photo.
Man found after spending overnight stuck in car in a ditch near Onion Lake

Kitimat RCMP said the man was stuck there overnight for about 10 hours

FILE - Nathan Cullen speaks to media in Smithers, B.C., Friday, February 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
More calls come in for Cullen’s removal as NDP candidate

Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs demand Cullen’s removal. Ellis says, There’s no place in B.C. for racism

Martin Holzbauer, independent, Nicole Halbauer, BC NDP, and Ellis Ross, BC Liberal Party, are the candidates for the Skeena riding in the upcoming provincial election. (Terrace Standard/BC NDP)
Skeena candidates talk northwest education

Online learning access and early childhood education were common themes

Stikine provincial election candidates (clockwise from top left): Nathan Cullen, NDP; Darcy Repen, Rural BC Party; Rod Taylor, Christian Heritage; and Gordon Sebastian, BC Liberals.
‘Where is Annita McPhee?’: Cullen under fire from opening salvo of all-candidates forum

Four Stikine candidates spar during online debate from Prestige Hudson Bay Lodge in Smithers

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry presents modelling of COVID-19 spread in B.C., March 25, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 203 new cases

up to 1,766 active cases in B.C., two more deaths

Jordan Naterer, an electrical engineer from Vancouver, was last seen Saturday Oct. 10. (Facebook photo)
Search efforts to resume for missing Manning Park hiker; Trudeau speaks on case

PM says he’ll do what he can to ‘nudge’ efforts to find Jordan Naterer, yet has little leverage locally

Smartphone showing various applications to social media services and Google. (Pixabay photo)
National media calling for level playing field with Google, Facebook

In Canada, Google and Facebook control 80 per cent of all online advertising revenues

École de L’Anse-au-sable. (Google Maps)
B.C. records first COVID-19 outbreak at school, six weeks after students return to class

Three cases of the virus have been identified at École de L’Anse-au-sable

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau is seen as she leaves media event during a campaign stop in West Vancouver, B.C., Tuesday, October 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green leader hopes voters see value in minority government

The Greens received nearly 17 per cent of the popular vote in 2017 yet received just three seats

Local candidates Pam Alexis, Abbotsford-Mission, and Preet Rai, Abbotsford-West, look on as NDP Leader John Horgan main streets in Abbotsford, B.C., Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. NDP takes snap election risk during pandemic in quest for majority government

Green Leader Sonia Furstenau said the election was unnecessary and irresponsible during the pandemic

Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson speaks during a drive-in car rally campaign stop at a tour bus operator, in Delta, B.C., on October 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. Liberal Leader maintains confidence as campaign tests party identity

Liberal campaign has been disrupted by controversy

Most Read