We are all about names right now in the Hopkins House. We already have a dog with a ridiculous name (a Scottish terrier named The Baron Augustus von StuderBraeden who we call “Stoobie” for short), and have a nearly endless list of potential cat names.
And, in case I haven’t already made it abundantly clear, I am five months pregnant with my first child. Almost right away we knew that we would need a nickname for our baby, so that we could refer to it without, well, calling it “it.” Indiana and Scarlet had been called Squirt and Squid (in fact, their mom still calls them this), and I remember friends calling their growing babies names such as Peanut, Meatball, Nugget, Anchovie (gross!), and other adorable and descriptive names. At the suggestion of a dear friend, we settled on Biscuit. Baby Biscuit.
We found out a week ago that we were having a little girl (that’s three daughters for us!), and Justin and I were trying to come up with a creative way to tell Indiana and Scarlet they have a baby sister on the way. Baby Girl Biscuit! We decided to buy our first outfit for Biscuit, making sure it was obviously feminine so they would know the gender right away. The outfit was strawberry themed. The girls squealed when they saw it, and Scarlet immediately suggested that we name Biscuit “Strawberry Shortcake.” Ahem. May I please refer all of you to my previous post about cat names? Yes, my kids want to name our new baby Strawberry Shortcake. After the doll, not the dessert.
[We actually posted a picture of the outfit on Facebook to announce to our friends and family that we were having a girl, and, without knowing the girls’ suggestion, my wonderful cousin Michelle pointed out that she was now going to have to refer to Biscuit as Strawberry. “Ms. Strawberry Biscuit,” I corrected her.]
Scarlet’s middle name is Faith, and she and Indiana became fixated on the triple grouping of the words/phrases “Faith, Hope, and Love.” They lamented that Indiana’s middle name was not “Love” (it’s “Rose”), but said that this grevious error could be corrected if we named Biscuit “Honey Hope Hopkins.” [You do not even want to know what the first Google image result is for “Honey Hope”…] Unfortunately, I cannot wipe the thought of the original Bond Girl, Honey Rider, portrayed so well by Ursula Andress. You remember, don’t you? …
Oh God, please don’t let this be my daughter.
Another random, almost instant suggestion from Scarlet was “Lindsey.” I’m not sure where that one came from, but it’s so…normal…I don’t quite know how to respond. She is also convinced that the four of us will be voting on Biscuit’s name. Justin and I both stifled laughter, and he calmly pointed out that our family was not a democracy. When she screwed up her face in confusion, we quickly assured her that we would take all names “under advisement.”
Names are important. But we know that, don’t we? Names seem to carry so much weight, so much meaning. Names, for better or for worse, define who we are. Sara means “Princess” in Hebrew. This always embarrassed me growing up…but I have to admit that, at least with my parents and my husband, this name rings true. [Not sure if I should have actually confessed that…oh well, no going back now!]
Sara (or Sarah) was an outrageously popular name when I was growing up (although I was given this name because of a prophetic dream my mother had). There was always some other girl named Sara/h in the vicinity. I sometimes felt nameless as a result–I didn’t have a name that stood out enough. Plus, Sara was already so short it didn’t lend itself to any cute nicknames. I was ridiculously jealous of girls named Jessica (who could be called “Jess” or “Jessi/e”), Jennifer (who could be called “Jen” or “Jennie/y”), or Samantha (who could be called “Sam” or “Sammy”). Sigh. It was tough. So, so tough.
So then I focused on wanting a new name, something that would make me glow with…unique difference [yes, I know that’s redundant, but that is actually a phrase I thought about as a child–I thought I was being especially descriptive.] Two names topped my list:
Isn’t Ariel just the most wonderful, beautiful, amazing, lyrical name you’ve ever heard?! You agree? Oh, lovely! (PLUS, I’m an amazing singer, so the choice is OBVIOUS.)
You know, from Fiddler on the Roof, my other favorite movie. TZEITEL. Just listen to that awesome TZ combination as it rolls (or sparks, maybe) off the tongue. Pay no attention to Tzeitel’s horrified face. Really. That is not a clue as to what a horrible idea this is.
Girl, you craaaazy.
Yeah. Ariel and Tzeitel. Suddenly Scarlet and Indiana’s suggestions don’t sound so bad, do they? You know what’s even crazier? Tzeitel, it turns out, is actually the Yiddish diminutive form of the name Sarah.
It really didn’t take too long for me learn to love my name. Especially since my last name was so short (Shea). Together, my first and last names were only three syllables. Sara Shea. Then I started thinking that perhaps my name was pretty badass, whatwith the alliteration and all. Maybe my parents knew what they were doing when they named me. My mom called me by my full name when she was especially proud of me, or pleased, instead of when I was in trouble. “Sara Shea” became a signal of something good, instead of something punitive. I started referring to my name as my superhero-secret-identity name on account of the alliteration, like Peter Parker, or Clark Kent. I felt powerful. So with my name, and children already named AWESOME names like Indiana and Scarlet, I am feeling a lot of pressure to find the.best.possible.name. for Ms. Strawberry Biscuit.
Fast-forward (or is it rewind?) to last Monday when I was driving the girls to school, and they mentioned that their mom had taken them to see The Avengers over the weekend. They rattled off minutia about the plot, mentioning superhero after superhero, and then started talking about all the other superhero movies they have seen.
“Do you know what the Hulk’s real name is?” I asked.
They both faltered.
“Bruce Banner,” I told them.
“Oh, you mean DOCTOR Bruce Banner,” Indiana corrected.
“What is Spiderman’s real name?”
I quizzed them on Superman, and Cyclops from the X-Men (Scott Summers). I explained how it was very common for superheroes (and other comic book characters) to have fun alliterative names (I also had to explain what alliteration was). I mentioned J. Jonah Jameson and Otto “Dr. Octopus” Octavius from Spiderman; Warren Worthington III, better known as Angel, from X-Men; Lois Lane and Lex Luthor from Superman; and Susan Storm (the Invisible Woman) and Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic) from The Fantastic Four. The girls were enthralled, trying to think of other alliterative superhero names.
“Hey guys?” I asked. “What was my name before I married Daddy?” I may or may not have been grinning mischievously.
“Sara Shea,” Indiana answered immediately.
And then her jaw hit the floor.
“Ohmygodwhatisyoursuperpower?” she asked.
“I can’t tell you. It’s a secret,” I smirked.
Both Indiana and Scarlet were bouncing in their seats with this news.
We pulled up at the girls’ school. I kissed them goodbye, and they off they ran to their respective classrooms.
I could hear Indiana muttering, “Sara Shea Sara Shea Sara Shea,” as she turned the corner.
I tucked my cape back below my collar.