Newsflash to nobody, but naming a child feels really important. It feels like you have his fate in your hands and whatever name you come up with with launch him to success or doom him to failure. I suspect this isn't actually true at all. The book "Freakonomics," suggests it's complete balderdash and theorizes instead that certain names are chosen by portions of society with less money while those with more money choose different names, making us all feel as though names make all the difference when it actually is probably what kind of situation we come from; Education, nutrition, parental involvement and finances matter more.
Anyway, this doesn't feel true at all when it comes time to name a child. At that moment, the fights he will get in, the dates he will or will not go on, the teasing he will or will not endure, the scholarships he will earn and his position on the athletic field all rest in the power of his parents to give him a "good" name.
Almost nine years ago we named a child Dresden. My gentle mother-in-law said out loud that she hated the name and thought we must be kidding. My own mother wasn't too pleased either but both love the boy and the name. He is great in social situations, is happy at school and is well liked by adults. With most of his first decade logged, the name has been a success; Likewise his brother Logan.
An unexpected new baby has come into our family and unlike the day Shannon suggested Dresden, no mutually agreed on moniker landed on us. We searched with no success for a geographical name that also had some tie to a fictional heroic character. For those not familiar, Dresden DeVon has the initials DD, which is short for comic-book hero Daredevil. Logan is named as much after mutant Wolverine as he is the city where Shannon went to college and where we courted.
Each of our children have four names, always including "DeVon" as a family name (Dee - Vaughn) after my father and after me.
But no third choice was ever conjured out of any baby book or atlas or heroic fiction. All those sources yielded plenty of options but none were satisfactory to both of us.
Those names made Shannon's list and I especially liked Zurich and Winston but the latter was neither a city nor a heroic figure unless Winston Churchill was counted but he wasn't fictional. ("Never, never, never, never give up.")
One day, speaking to a much respected acquaintance, he mentioned that his friend had just named his baby "Strider," and it struck me like a thunderbolt that the name was perfect for my future child. Later that day at home I excitedly told Shannon and she was completely unimpressed. Apparently she has "Lord of the Rings" fatigue but I didn't associate the name with the book or the films, but just as a great name.
Dresden and Logan however were very impressed and next to "Frodo Baggins" they thought it was the greatest name ever. And they used it pretty much from then on when talking to Shannon's tummy or talking down her throat to the baby. I thought maybe she would be won over.
A month or so later, I saw some other friends having a disagreement over a baby name and one half of the couple insisted that the name was decided and the other partner had no choice and that felt so wrong to me; I immediately ended the "Strider" campaign and told my already born children to do the same. The problem is, they already thought of the baby as "Strider" and didn't stop calling him that. The used the name as a name, as a given, as a title, as an already determined fact. Even at the hospital last week I wasn't pushing for the name and after his birth I wasn't using it but the two older boys were, just calling him by the name they knew him as. And, it turns out, they were extremely fond of him immediately.
They were as excited and loving and sweet and doting to the little pink and purple screamer as anybody could hope boys to be. And they used the name around grandparents and visitors and friends and aunts and cousins.
Strider Strider Strider Strider Strider Strider.
Still I told Shannon that we could name him anything she liked but she confessed that when he was born and was put on her chest seconds later, she thought indeed, she could name this nine pound eight ounce contender "Strider."
It was already who he was.
Logan would tell me when we were away from the hospital, "I miss Strider," and Dresden would coo at him, "Hi Strider," or "It will be okay Strider," when the baby was upset. His identity was settled before he was ever born and not by his parents.
Still I was ready to go with "Winston Strider" and gave her that option but she thought it sounded better the other way.
And so it is, we have "Strider Winston DeVon Curtis".
There is another factor about the name that I love. Spencer W. Kimball had a lot of influence on me as a youth with his exhortations to get things done, work harder and be better. One way he phrased this advice was to "lengthen our stride" and to me, that has always been excellent advice. This name of Strider is actually an action word or describes an action person. It means to stride or walk or in the broader sense, to put forth more effort. So, along with the LOTR link to the noble, selfless king, it also is somebody who (at least in my mind) follows the advice to lengthen our stride. I like that — a lot.
For now, I am quite content to let Shannon instruct him how to eat better but the time will come for teaching and the pointing out of ideals and examples. A humble but able fictional king and President Kimball work pretty well.
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