Saturday, March 6, 2010

An Iowan named Jennifer

I live in Ankeny Iowa.

I think this is a great idea. Jennifer was the most common girl's name for the year I was born, 1974.

There were 12 Jennifers in my grade at East Elementary, where they had three classes for each grade. So every year, every class had at least 4 Jennifers. At least no one ever made fun of our name!

So we were identified by the initials of our last names: Jennifer W., Jennifer L., Jenny S., Jenny R., etc.

My mom decided to "mix it up" and dropped one of the n's in my name, so I became "Jenifer With One N"

Other Jennifers I met through the years took more drastic measures. I knew a "Jynnifer" and a "Jennipher."

As annoying as it was to always have your name misspelled, it ended up being to my benefit. In college, there was another student with the same first, middle, and last name as myself. She said that she had some difficulties with credit and other official records due to so many people having the same name. My single "n" helped me avoid those issues.

I went by "Jeni" until I got married. My first husband's paternal grandmother was also named Jenny (not short for Jennifer, just Jenny), so I switched to Jenifer.

To this day, people who knew me before I got married call me "Jeni" and more recent acquaintances call me Jenifer. Jen is o.k., too.

I swore I would never give my children common names, but I have 3 girls and I was running out of ideas. Yes, one of my daughters is named "Emily," the most common girl's name for her birth year, 1999 (her twin is Leah). It has not been as much of an issue for her though, especially since there has never been more than one other Emily in her class.

New parents are more creative with names now, and there are more to choose from. With more diversity, I don't think kids even make fun of names like they used to. My father, in his 70's, was very concerned with the name I chose for my youngest, "Alyse" (pronounced like Elise but spelled much cooler). He said the kids would make fun of her, chanting "Alyse, A-Lice, A-Louse" (as in head lice). Thankfully (I think) kids are more creative about what they make fun of now.

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