"You never realize how many people you just don't like until you try to name a baby" tweeted @PickleRudd earlier this week.
Serendipity. I've been engaging in an ever-growing social media thread about names.
I posted a question earlier this week after a radio caller to ZM identified herself as Delwyn. It's a name I never encountered growing up in the States, similar to Raewyn. It got me thinking about the importance and curiosities of naming.
Before you brush it off as trivia, consider the fortunes spent by corporations, even countries, who rebrand themselves. The king of Swaziland, a nation of 1.5 million people, renamed the country Eswatini in 2018. The tiny landlocked country borders Mozambique and South Africa.
The BBC reported like many African countries, eSwatini "has wrestled with how to redefine itself in its post-colonial era".
People also confused Swaziland with Switzerland. The country's king estimated the name change would cost $6 million, not including expenses to fight legal challenges to the move.
Name change is a topic continually recycled in New Zealand.
Today, following the Black Lives Matter movement and ensuing discussion of what many people call our colonial, racist past, some folks are saying it's time to rebrand as Aotearoa.
Scholars argue Aotearoa was one of the Māori names for the North Island, so it's not inclusive. Throw in Maori names for the South Island and Stewart Island and we might end up with a complex word stew that would occupy an entire page of any form.
Supporters of using Aotearoa New Zealand say it would recognise the relationship of tangata whenua to the land.
The change requires an act of Parliament, and on this matter, Labour Party leader and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and National MP Simon Bridges agree legal action isn't necessary. Both say people are already referring to our country as Aotearoa New Zealand.
A petition last year presented to Parliament called for a name change referendum. A committee decided it wasn't necessary at that time.
And certainly not in 2020.
Voters already have two big decisions: the End of Life Choice referendum and the Cannabis Legalisation and Control referendum. Toss in a buffet of candidates and voters will be bloated with decision. Maybe indecision, too.
Also, there's Covid. The name that won't go away.
The virus has inspired parents to tie their offspring to a lethal pandemic by saddling them with names like Covid, Corona and Lockdown (parents in India reportedly gifted these names to their children). There's a Covid Rose in the Philippines and somewhere out there, baby Quarantina.
It makes me grateful for my name, whose popularity peaked at number 14 in the US in 1971, the year after I was born. In New Zealand, Dawn topped out at 96 in 1956. This explains why Kiwi friends think I have a Boomer name, despite my membership in Generation X.
Naming a child is an act of hope, aspiration and an attempt to tie past to present. We hope our children grow into the names we give them. Parents confer monikers to convey qualities like strength, goodness, distinctiveness and beauty. We bequeath family names for generations. Pragmatists may choose unisex names to help children avoid gender discrimination on job applications. People from overseas often westernise their names to avoid racial prejudice - at least on paper.
The challenge for parents who are neither celebrities nor the freest of spirits is choosing a name that's neither too common nor too unique. We're not going to please everyone.
My late grandmother said she hated her name (Adelaide) even as a young child. When she entered kindergarten, she gave the teacher her middle name, Florence, instead. It stuck.
An "aha" moment happened recently while I was listening to social science researcher and author Brené Brown's podcast (Brown goes by her middle name - her first name is Casandra).
She said one of the rules in her family was no name-calling, including dissing yourself.
Instead of saying, "I suck at maths," Brown says it's more constructive to say, "I find this problem challenging. Can you help?"
It sounds simple, but how often do we allow our own put-downs to seep into our subconscious? Instead of calling myself a klutz (which I have), the gentler, less limiting option is saying I'm a human whose knees and palms sometimes share unplanned moments with gravel. Reframing the occasional nose-dive as something most runners experience moves me from self-deprecation (which can border on self-pity) to self-acceptance. We could all use more of that.
Many leaders have reminded us to "be kind" during this time. Kindness is not something reserved only for other people - it's something to give yourself, too.
Be kind to yourself. And whatever you do, don't name your baby Covid.