Of Guys and Dolls and Second Grade

All through elementary school, I was one of three “Susans” in my grade (and one “Suzanne”). We also had five “Johns” and a few “Michaels.” Names are different now. There are Brookes and Jordans (or “Jordyn,” and they’re all girls) and Brandons and Dylans. No Susans. No Johns (or Jons).

Name trends are funny things. You can track my daughter’s maturity level by the names she’s given various stuffed animals and dolls throughout her life. The pink blanket she was given as a baby (and still sleeps with) is, appropriately enough, named “Blankie.” One of her pillow pets is named “Purplish Unicorn.” I leave it to your fine powers of deduction to imagine what this pillow pet looks like. As she’s grown older, the names have become a bit more original. The American Girl doll Bitty Baby my sister gave her when she was three is named “Baby Reindeer.” That is, perhaps, my favorite doll name of all time. The uber-adorable pink flowered Webkinz pig is named “Mercy” (after Mercy Watson, from the wonderful book series by Kate DeCamillo). And the big-girl American Girl doll that my other sister gave her is named “Ken-Yan.” I’m not sure where this name came from, but I like it.

My kid has what might be termed an old-fashioned name (one that’s now seeing a huge resurgence, which I didn’t see coming when we named her). What can I say? I like to kick it old school. And I’m kind of a nerd. She’s a nerd in training. Case in point: I took her to see the Great Lakes Theater’s fantastic production of Guys and Dolls this summer. The kid absolutely loved it, and since then we’ve been listening to the soundtrack (from the 1992 Broadway revival) in the car, and watched the Sinatra-Brando film version from 1955 (which, sadly, doesn’t hold up). We wander around the house singing “Fugue for Tinhorns” and “Oldest Established” at the top of our lungs (well, I do. She’s still learning the lyrics.) And she learned some new old-fashioned names like Nathan and Adelaide.

She started second grade last week, and when we saw the class list the day before school started, we saw that there is a kid in her class named “Ken-Yan.” Now this just might be a hipster way of writing the name “Kenyon,” but I thought it was pretty fun coincidence. So did my husband. When our daughter came home after the first day of school, my husband asked “Do you like having a kid in your class with the same name as as your doll?” She replied, “That’s okay, but there’s a kid named Nathan! Like Nathan Detroit!”

What are some of the best names your kids have come up with for their dolls or stuffed animals?

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