My beautiful, devout wife and I celebrated our 13th anniversary last week. It was a joyous occasion, and we marked the event in proper fashion: We spent it at the softball diamond, swatting away mosquitos who wanted our blood and children who wanted our money. Both were tremendously hungry, apparently.
My daughter and I have a standing agreement. If she plays exceptionally well (hits a home run or sends a couple of balls into the outfield and doesn’t strike out, or whatever) she gets to go to Dairy Queen. During this particular game, she did none of these things (although, to be fair, she pitched great and didn’t strike out). Afterward, as is customary, she assessed the situation with “So, are we going to Dairy Queen?” Upon receiving a denial, Olivia, being the clever girl she is, asked the following, hopefully: “But wouldn’t you two like to celebrate your anniversary at Dairy Queen?”
Although she got high marks for effort, she was again turned down. The celebration would have to wait. But, really, it’s been a 13-year celebration of joy and laughter and love.
Certainly we have overcome difficulties, like surviving the first two full years of marriage (fine, three years). And while we’ve really hit our stride as a couple, our marriage is about to be challenged like never before. But, together, we will hold hands and grit our teeth as we undertake the most difficult task two people can face.
We will try to name a baby. For the fourth time.
The first three weren’t terribly difficult. Erin and I both loved the name Olivia.
When Kid No. 2 was forming, Grant was the carryover boy name and Vanessa was the girl name we had decided upon. We would ask Olivia if she thought the baby was going to be a Grant or a Vanessa. When Grant came out, Olivia, who was 2 at the time, was thrilled. She held him in the hospital and would kiss him and smile. When we brought him home, she looked at us, rather confused, and asked, rather cutely, “When are we going to back to the hospital to get baby Vanessa?”
Though I can’t recall what girl name we had picked for Kid No. 3, I had to fight for Jacob. I loved the name, but here is the problem with being married to a teacher: 90 percent of all names are ruined for them (and, consequently, their spouses) by the bad kids they’ve taught.
Our kids have their favorite names picked out, of course. Olivia is really praying for a baby girl and is adamant we name her Vanessa.
Grant is pulling for a boy and wants to name it Steeeeve. (I can only assume that’s how he wants to spell it, because that’s how he pronounces it. Every time.) I thought, “Oh, that’s great. My dad is named Steve and he wants to name it after his Papa. What a great little boy.” I was quickly corrected. “Papa’s name is Steven,” Grant said, matter-of-factly. “The baby’s name will be Steeeeve, like the black squirrel at the zoo.” Yep, he’s the kid that not only names the zoo animals, but the irrelevant ones everybody else just walks on by.
Not caring if it’s a boy or a girl, Jake has a plan for each: Rose if it’s a girl, because of (30-year-old spoiler alert!) Laura’s baby on “Little House on the Prairie,” and Steward — he says Steward instead of Stewart and it’s too cute to correct — after one of the Minions in “Despicable Me,” because that’s how Jake rolls.
While we certainly will consider both Steeeeve and Steward, we’re scouring the Internet and baby name books in search of monikers we haven’t thought of. We’re looking for inspiration from the saints, so we’ve been flipping through “The Catholic Baby Name Book” (Ava Maria Press, $15.95). As thick as a brick, this book touts more than 10,000 names. This is a just a ballpark guess, but at least 8,000 of those names are either completely made up or haven’t been used in the last five centuries.
Here is a sampling from the “A’s”: Abadios, Abakerazum, Abanoub, Abbo, Achatius, Acyndinus. And from deeper into the book: Viventiolus, Waldalenus and Waldebert.
I’m sure they were all very saintly, but Waldebert Warden doesn’t really roll off the tongue. That being said, I’m quite certain my wife never taught a Waldebert — or an Abakerazum.
So we’re sorting through the leftovers now, and my wife and I cannot agree on anything. I’m waiting for her to cave on a couple and she’s hoping I do the same. After 13 years, you’d think she would know me better.
Scott Warden is the associate editor of OSV Newsweekly. Follow him on Twitter @Scott_OSV.
For more of Scott's Confessions of a Catholic Dad, click here.