Friday, October 16, 2009

40. The Name Game

I have been asked to explain the origin of my children's names. So let's tackle these one at a time.

Let's start with my daughter, Layla Opal:

Why Layla?
Are we big Clapton fans? No, not really. We had a really hard time picking a first name for Layla. I wanted it to be uncommon and slightly exotic. Dina and I went through every name in the book, and we finally agreed that we both liked Layla. Dina liked it because it has Arabic roots, and she is part Syrian. Layla is traditionally spelled Leila, but we worried that she would be faced of a lifetime of people mispronouncing it as "Lye" la. So we decided to use the Clapton spelling to spare her that irritation.

Why Opal?
Because it is – and always has been – my favorite stone (and it's Dina's birth stone). For the life of me I can't figure out why opals aren't worth more than diamonds. Actually, I guess I do know (it's called the De Beers cartel) but we won't get into that right now. Anyway, I wanted my daughter to have some sort of real thing associated with her name. I used to have a friend whose surname was "Wolff," and I always thought it was cool that he had an instant motif built right into his name. I like names like River and Rose for the same reason. In that spirit, Opal worked quite nicely. It's unusual, exotic, and, when combined with Layla, results in an enchantingly lyrical name. Unfortunately it's a melody that grinds to a screeching halt with the addition of "Niblock." But I can't do anything about that.

And now my son, Ozias Andre:

Why Ozias?
This is a weird one, I know. I take full responsibility. I wanted a son named Oz. I love the name Oz. It is described in one of our baby name books as having a somewhat magical quality. I think it's the coolest guy's name ever. But we didn't really want to name him Oswald, or Oscar, or Ossie. We tried lots of combinations of "O" first names and "Z" middle names, so his initials would be O.Z. But that didn't work either, because we didn't like any Z names. And then finally I stumbled upon the name Ozias. It was mentioned briefly in a baby name book, not as on official entry, but in a listing of names similar to "Oswald." And I couldn't get that name out of my head. It's a biblical name - it means "strength of God." It's a king's name. The more I said that name, the more I liked it, and the more I liked it, the more I realized that no other name would do.

Why Andre?
Because it's my middle name. It was my grandmother's maiden name. A connection to a chapter of my history that, because of unfortunate circumstances, I know only from stories and photographs. So, along with his extra chromosome, Ozzie forever carries that connection, too.

I will make one footnote about Ozzie's name. When he was born, I had a brief crisis of conscience. I wondered if I might be doing him a disservice by giving him such an unusual name. I had wanted to give him a name that would help him stand out from the crowd, but when I learned of his diagnosis, it was obvious to me that standing out would never be an issue for him. I wondered if his name might just make him stand out even further, perhaps in a bad way. Yeah, I thought about it - for about five minutes. For the very first time, I was forced to decide whether to treat him like a normal child, or treat him differently because of the Ds. And I made my decision - I would be damned if I would allow Down syndrome to strip my son of his birthright.

So I have my Oz. My Ozzie. My king.

And I will now tag Lisa at Genetically Enhanced, because I know she has an interesting story about Sheridan's name that she is just DYING to share. So get busy, Lisa. Unleash your inner geek.


ds.mama said...

Both are great stories and I think both your kids have wonderful striking names so you and Dina did good :-)

Perplexing Situation said...

i love your kids names. each are original and obviously lots of thought, heart, and soul went into their selection. i think you 2 did fantastic.

Tara said...

Well, I have been wondering where Ozzie got his name. Great story. Interestingly enough, I kind of felt bad initially, because I thought Simeon had the most "normal" of all our kids names...until about the 500th time a nurse called him "Simon". Now I realize that he fits in well with Michaela, Elliana, Atalia, Benaiah, and Zakkai. :) We, too, had his nickname (Eon) chosen before we found a longer name that fit.

Chrystal said...

I loved reading those stories. I'm curious like that.

Cheri said...

Thanks for sharing...that was fun to read. I love both their names, actually all 4 names. I'm so glad you decided to name him Oz after all, it is such a cool name and yes I think it will make him stand out... but in a good way...he'll be the cool kid on campus :).

Lisa said...

they're both so regal... love it :)

Anonymous said...

Totally YEARS late on commenting, but I LOVE the name Ozias. Guess I'm partial because I named my son Ozias too. :-) nickname is zizi , as in "z-eye z-eye"

NursingBoop said...

My name is Betty Opal and as a child it was hopelessly old fashioned, but now, as an adult, I have come to cherish the unique quality of the name. (My mom is Betty, my grandmother was Opal) Having the stone named after me...haha...really does make it special. kudos on the names and more importantly kudos on not flinching or holding back honesty about your own feelings or those provoked by others. God bless on your journey.