Topic submitted by Tiffany: my children’s names. how they were chosen. special meaning and nicknames.
My children’s names do not stem from any one particular event or occasion, we simply liked them.
We had neighbors in Cedar City who had named their little boy Cooper. We didn’t know them well, I just remember hearing it and thinking it was a cool name. Cooper was down to that and one other name just before he was born. Coop was my choice and the other might have topped D’s list, however we both liked them both. I wrote in my journal in June 2004 that I started calling him “Cooper” in my tummy. It became natural and felt right. The funniest comment we got about his name came from my maternal grandmother, Grandma Nina. She said, “do you know what people will call him?” I had thought of several unfortunate things, actually. She had something totally different in mind. “Coop. They will call him Coop! Like a chicken coop!” Well, yes. We do call him coop, and I don’t think it’s an insult! I’m sure creative peers with a not-so-nice streak will be much more brutal. As I think on the other option for his name, I’m glad we didn’t go that direction for this kid.
While there are many Benjamins in my family line, Cooper’s middle name is for my dad (despite what my brother may think). I wrote in Cooper’s baby book,
“We finally decided that your middle name would be Benjamin, after your grandpa. He is the man that I love most in this world, except your daddy. He is the kind of man we hope you will be someday. Your grandpa has a very strong testimony of Jesus Christ and shows it by the way he lives. He makes good choices, he is kind and smart and strong. You are very blessed to have great examples in your life.”
I feel like Benjamin is a noble name, one to be proud of. A good reminder of a piece of where he came from.
When we were in New York, we spent a summer in Milwaukee. During our trip there, we passed signs for the Seneca area of NY. I was on the hunt for great names as I was pregnant with Cooper at the time and didn’t know if he was a boy or a girl yet. “Seneca” caught my eye and I just loved it. I loved that it was associated with Native Americans. I loved that it was beautiful and a little different. I have held that name in the back of my heart for a long time and knew that if we had a little girl, that would be at the top of my list. In my head, she looked native. She had dark skin and dark hair. I didn’t know if that was what my little girl would look like after Cooper arrived with blond hair and blue eyes. When we got a call from the family services office letting us know that a birthmother wanted to meet us regarding adopting her baby, I knew immediately that it was a girl. She confirmed that and I had Seneca in my head.
We talked about a middle name and whether she needed one, being a girl. I always wanted one when I was younger, but now I’m glad I don’t have one. I love my maiden name and I am happy to have that one stick with me. There were several names we considered, most of them being one syllable and relating to someone we loved. Kate was my first choice, but we hadn’t decided until we met our new little girl, who was introduced to us as “Kate.” That was the name her birth mom had chosen for her and what was on her original birth certificate. Her birth mother asked us if we were going to change her name. I said we hadn’t quite decided, but in my head she was already Seneca Kate. I loved that she could carry the name with her that her birth mother had chosen for her.
Denten and I talked about whether it was strange to have a Navajo little girl named after another indian tribe, but didn’t think it was a big deal. Our niece Cheyanne is also Navajo and named after another tribe and I don’t think it has been an issue simply because the name fits her. Grandma Bitsilly commented once though that both of her little Navajo great-granddaughters were named after other tribes. Everyone laughed and said, “well, did you want their parents to name them ‘Navajo?’” Seneca fits this little girl. We call her Senny for short and that fits too. I haven’t ever regretted choosing this name for her.
*something else to be recorded: after we found we were bringing home a little girl, my mom called me and asked if we had chosen a name yet. I told her we were still deciding. She shared with me a dream she had where there was a little girl in her family named “Tessa,” and she wondered if it was ours. Denten and I threw it around a little and liked it, but it didn’t end up feeling quite right. The little girl I had in my head did not look like a Tessa. Katelyn shared with us a short time later that she was expecting and kept her little girl’s name quiet until she was born. When she shared her name with us, Tessa Jane, I told her the story of mom’s dream. Mom was right on the money, just one little girl too soon!
When we were expecting Beckham, we revisited some of the names that were on the table with Cooper, but none of them stuck. We wanted something a little unique, but it took a while to find it. I remember having a conversation with Katelyn where she mentioned that one of her friends had just used that name and I really liked it. Again, it came down to this one and one other. The other one is cool, too, especially this time of year, but it wasn’t right for our little boy. Denten was concerned about having a good nickname. “Beck” didn’t do it for him. We liked “becks” ok but it was really aunt Katelyn that gave us the right one. She texted me when I was in the hospital just after having him and said something to the effect, “I can’t wait to meet little Bex!” Denten and I looked at each other and smiled. He liked that a lot. That was the right nickname and the right spelling.
Bitsilly is Denten’s mother’s maiden name. It is our Navajo connection-name. We had not incorporated the Navajo heritage into our children’s names yet and this one represented so much to us. It was a tie to the Robinson line as well as the Bitsilly tradition. It was Dent’s first choice and not a hard sell. We actually had a funny conversation about this name yesterday in the car. I called him “Beckham Bitsilly” and Seneca said, “mom, he’s not silly, he’s happy, and funny!” Trying to explain that middle name to two-year-olds was useless. Cooper used to call Grandma Bitsilly, “Grandma a-little-bit-silly,” thinking the term referred to her demeanor rather than her name. They’ll get it someday. I’m glad that Beckham carries his Navajo heritage in his name, even if he is a little blondie with fair, squishy skin.
I believe we have one more to add to this little crew of our. I have a name in my head that I have liked for a while, but we’ll wait and see what heaven has in store for us. If you’d like to have this surprise revealed sooner rather than later, let’s encourage Denten to go get his physical taken, shall we? Then our adoption file can be on its way!
I think the process of choosing baby names is both fun and daunting. Perhaps names shouldn’t matter so much, but when you’re choosing what one will be known as while on earth, it seems a big responsibility. Mostly I’m just grateful that I’ve had the chance to be a part of these decisions, three times! Because the people behind the names are pretty great.