On the inevitable day my kids ask about why they have the names they do, I have been working on a story (based on true events) to help them work through my issues and principled stances about their names. Here we go:
Once upon a time, a prince from Rhode Island and a princess from Massachusetts met and fell in love. After many years they married. Then they had a son, a baby prince.
“Oh, yay! A baby prince!” the prince’s family celebrated. “His first name must be the prince’s father’s first name and his middle name must be the princess’s father’s first name.”
“Um…okay…but why?” asked the princess and new mother.
“Because that is what we have always done. It is tradition,” said the prince’s family (in strong Rhode Island accents).
The prince advocated for his family’s naming tradition. And so it was. The baby prince’s grandfathers were honored by having their new baby grandson named after them both…just for being men.
Then when the baby prince became a toddler, the prince and princess forgot what it was like to have a newborn and decided to have another child. This time it was to be a girl.
“So, out of curiosity,” said the princess, “are there any naming traditions for baby princesses?” Both royal families paused for a milisecond and both said, “Nope!”
The princess was relieved and infuriated at the same time. She decided to compartmentalize her frustration and reflect on the very powerful gift and responsibility of naming a child. The princess and prince talked at great length about names they liked and disliked. The prince, though, was very wise, and concluded most conversations with, “whatever you think is best, my love.”
Then the momentous day arrived! The baby princess was born and the families gathered to hear the name of the sweet little girl. To the surprise of all, she had three. Her first name was in honor of a woman the prince and princess had read about; a woman who was admired for her wit, courage and songwriting centuries ago. Her second name was in honor of the princess’s mother. Her third name was in honor of the prince’s grandmother and great aunt. All three of these royal women were strong-minded and undisputedly ruled their respective kingdoms with fairness and love (and amazing food!)
Though the baby princess’s name was unfamiliar and seemingly complex and principled, both families were gracious and (mostly) kept their opinions to themselves. And all in the kingdom rejoiced that there were now two happy and healthy little royals. A prince and a princess with meaningful names to honor loved ones. And they have been ruling the kingdom ever since. The End.