Sunday, March 1, 2009

My Two Cents on Names

After reading Jon's post and some of the comments, I want to clarify a few things. 

First, I am fully aware that Morgan is more often used for girls than boys. To me it is not feminine because I grew up with a dad and grandfather and brother and male cousin and etc... all men with the name and all of them are the opposite of feminine. However I realize the name has sort of been taken over by girls. Still, with this child being our fifth child and having 4 older sisters, just like my dad; and after hearing my grandmother say SOOOO many times "FOUR girls!!! FOUR girls!!! Then I got my boy" that I can still hear her say it in my head every time I think of my four girls, I really wanted to use the name Morgan.

I didn't want to call him this because there are too many Morgans in our family. So I wanted a very strong male name that no one would mistake for a girl to be the name by which he was called. Other than wanting a veto power for any totally objectionable name Jon might jokingly come up with, I was pretty open about what to choose.

Jon really really wanted to use a family name. Now we only have so many Waite family names that pass the "not totally objectionable" threshold. Pretty much John, Noble, William and Jesse are it. I like all those names but I didn't want to do Jesse with Morgan because then both names are gender neutral. John is a great name but Jon didn't want two John or Jon's in our little family. I agree with him on that. I really like the name William, but with Waite? Will Waite? Hmm. No. That left us to Noble or picking a non Waite family name. 

Jon's grandfather who went by Noble was an incredible man and the family recently put out a biography on him. There are great stories in the book about him. He died young and while Jon never got to meet him, we have recordings of his voice and him bearing his testimony. I personally, LOVE the name Noble and have always wanted to use it. 

So I just wanted to give my side of the Jesse debate since Jon's post made him out to be such the martyr. 

Now as for some of the comments -- people really. If I wanted an opinion poll of this name, I would have put one up. I don't really care what anyone thinks of the name we have chosen, but in the comments why don't we try to be polite and not write anonymously what we wouldn't say to a person to their face. Thanks.

And the Name is...

As you may or may not have surmised, I am the one who loves the name Jesse for a boy. My wife, in a state of wild delusion, believes the name to be gender neutral. Apparently, when stating our children’s names, Sabrina, Ann Marie, Lauren and (potentially) Jesse – she didn’t want to explain which one is a boy. Never mind that it’s highly unlikely Sabrina, Ann or Lauren would be mistaken as boy names. Now, I do understand how the name came to be “gender neutral” – nickname for Jessica, or an outright name (as a side note, “Jessie” was a much more popular name for girls before 1900 than “Jesse” was for boys). That’s OK, I understand that. I honestly don’t care what the perception of the name is – I like it. However, my wife and I are partners and there needs to be a “meeting of the minds”. So, the name Jesse has been sacrificed on the altar of marital harmony. May it rest in peace.

Now, I don’t want to give the impression that there was some sort of heated arguments and strife involved in this decision. There wasn’t. Disagreements—yes. However, the majority of our discussions about what to name our children have usually involved me making up the stupidest sounding name possible, laughing and then stopping as my wife gives me that “that’s not funny” look. Apparently, naming your kids is serious business. Although on another side note, read the chapter of the book
Freakonomics on kids with silly names—very interesting stuff.

We like to give our children family names. We don’t know if we will have another boy, so for Stephanie and I the name is important (despite my jokes). In the last book of the Old Testament in the book of Malachi, Malachi talks about the coming of the prophet Elijah and states, “And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers”. While Jews might not agree with me, I believe Elijah has come and that this prophecy is being met today. Family History and Genealogy is one of the most searched items on the Internet. People find meaning and personal pride in their roots.

I never had a desire to live in Las Vegas. However, with Camille’s passing and through reading biographies of my immediate ancestors I have felt a much deeper tie to the Las Vegas valley. My paternal grandfather, William Noble Waite, was born and raised in the Bunkerville area. The first Waite to join the Mormon church joined in England in 1848 (who incidentally was at an 1853 church conference with one of Stephanie’s ancestors). The Waites (along with some of my other ancestors: Leavitts, Gibbons and Huntsmans) eventually were sent by Brigham Young to settle first Southern Utah and then Southern Nevada. The Waites were poor – as in dirt poor. Jesse was my great grandfather and was a farmer. His story is fairly unremarkable and similar to thousands of others in that area – poor but an abiding faith in God and His gospel.  

As a young man, I always wanted to leave my city and achieve great things, success and fame. However, as I have grown older and wiser I have come to respect the hard work and humility of the farmers, miners, school teachers and others who work their whole life in anonymity and instill in their children a love of God, a love of others and a great work ethic. Jesse Waite was one of those – not a perfect man, but a good, solid example for his progenitors.

In our “meeting of the minds”, we do like the name Morgan Noble Waite for peanut. Barring some unforeseen circumstance, that is what we plan on naming him. Morgan is Stephanie’s dad’s name. Never mind how gender neutral Morgan is for a boy—marital harmony people, marital harmony. Also, since there are many Morgans in Stephanie’s family, we’ll call him Noble. Back to the point: my father-in-law is a great man. He reminds me a lot of those characteristics that I was just talking about – and he grew up on a farm. He went on to get a law degree and was the Public Defender for Las Vegas for over 30 years. One of Stephanie’s reasons for wanting to use the name Morgan as part of peanut's name is that her father was the 5th child after four girls. 

Noble is after my grandfather, William Noble Waite (he went by “Noble”). My uncle just finished writing a biography on him and it is fascinating. In his work life, he was a school teacher and high school principal in Southern California. In his church life, he was incredible and accomplished great things. He was a stake president, mission president and was in charge of raising money for the Los Angeles Temple and BYU. I guess the theme between the two is that they both came from those humble beginnings with rather humble fathers (in money and spirit) that went on to achieve great things.

So thank you all to participating in our mental exercise. It was not all in vain. It helped us (well OK, mainly Stephanie) to make her decision. Another thing: I know it sounds like I’m playing the martyr but that’s just me having fun with the situation. For me, it has been fun reading and learning about my roots. More importantly, I have a more profound appreciation of the kind of people my ancestors were. Many of your ancestors were probably of the same ilk. They were the backbone of their society and the building blocks of who we are. We owe them the respect they deserve.