In a country where individuality is encouraged as a right, American society members no longer seek to blend in, as we look to be accepted and viewed for who we are as individuals. When I set out to have a family, I told myself that I would teach my children that they are special and as unique as a beautiful snowflake. Naturally these thoughts applied when naming my children. In today’s society being unique is clever and clever is interesting, as the stars we adore name their children unique names such as Brad and Angelina’s daughter Shiloh Jolie-Pitt, Jay Z and Beyonce’s daughter Blue Ivy Carter and Kanye and Kim’s daughter North West.
When I found out I was pregnant with my first child, I was looking for inspiration from everywhere. Only a few weeks pregnant I decided that I was having a boy and he needed a powerful name. While watching a horror movie, I heard the name Dominus, which according to the movie meant God. I later found out that the name is of Roman origin and is Medieval Latin for Lord of a territory. The strength in the name Dominus was perfect for me. Looking to round out the name with an equally powerful middle name I decided on Qur’an, as I understood the meaning to be God’s book. I was so excited about the name Dominus Qur’an, but getting my mom to share in my enthusiasm was another story.
After finding out that this boy I insisted I was having was actually a girl the wheels in my head began to spin. I started to think about how much I hated my name growing up in the 80s and 90s. In fact, I hated my name so much that by the time I entered the first grade I changed my name. I grew tired of teachers mispronouncing my name because it was embarrassing. I accepted the fact that they pronounced my name as Jenny rather than Jenée, so I simply informed my teachers that my name was Jennifer. I always dreaded the first day of school, when your last name begins with a W there’s a good chance you’ll be called last and that meant for me that my name would be mispronounced in front of my new classmates. With these fears crowding my mind, I was torn between keeping my daughter’s name classic or unique. She was my snowflake and therefore special and unique, so I made up a name by combining my first and middle name. I had a foolproof plan of spelling my daughter’s in such a way that it could not be mispronounced. Teachers may be afraid to give it a try, but they couldn’t get it wrong. Her name is Donyae, and unlike her mother she will not spend a lifetime correcting or explaining that my name is Jenée like Renee with a J.
Getting pregnant a second time, I decided to be even more “clever”. This time I was officially having a boy, so I simply rearranged the letters in my daughter’s name Donyae and came up with Daeyon. Another unique name that could not be mispronounced, and so far at 13 and 11 they have managed not to make many corrections. By the time I became pregnant with my third child I had gotten good practice with unique names that could not be mispronounced. In naming my youngest daughter I was inspired by the name of a friend’s aunt named Lavade (the d is silent). I couldn’t break the D tradition I had going with my two older children, so naturally her name had to begin with a D. Yet again I sought to be clever and decided that her first name and middle name should have two capitol letters to help with annunciation. Her name is DaVae LaVon and you couldn’t mispronounce her beautiful name if you tried.
The silver lining for my children is growing up in a society where a unique name is clever and clever is interesting. Growing up with a unique name was difficult for me when every class had classic names with two Michelle’s or Kim’s or Janelle’s and I simply wanted to blend. However as an adult, I embrace my name and of course now it’s a bit more common, but I truly love the French essence of Jenée Dionne. I am finding my attempts of naming my children unique names are no longer a rarity, as a simple Google search lists their names on websites such as www.urbandictionary.com and www.babycenter.com, as well as, a host of social networking sites proving that individuality is the new social status of acceptance.