The following conversation took place when Malcolm was six years old:

M:  Today at school some new kid told me my name was weird.

Us:  Oh honey, that must have hurt your feelings.  What is this new child’s name?

M:  (sniffling)  Torbin. 

In the courtroom of our kitchen we arrived at a judgment:  Pot calling the kettle black.

During his pre-school years, Malcolm went through a phase of desperately wanting to be Scott.  In his elementary years, he decided he liked being Malcolm.  Even though the popular sit-com made the general population more familiar with the name, it never really caught on as a baby moniker.  (Disclaimer:  the name goes back centuries in Chris’s Scottish family, and our baby was born in 1997, a couple of years before Malcolm in the Middle came out.)

Which was fine with us. 

The other day, though, Hugh came home from high school and told us the art teacher had had her new baby.  It was another boy.  And oh yeah!  His name was Malcolm!

This was big news, but even bigger because baby Malcolm’s big brother is named Hugo.

The art teacher’s husband (also an art teacher, but in the middle school) had actually quizzed our son Hugh a few years ago to ask how he liked his name.  When Hugh gave it a thumbs up, I guess that green-lighted the variant of Hugo for them.

One of my favorite memories on this subject is the time Ian came home, also in middle school, and announced there was a girl with a really weird name in his art club:  Mary.   How times have changed

I am proud that two teachers in public schools, all too familiar with over-popular names, chose handles that we also clearly love.  The teachers were on the record that they did not want names that were popular now, nor would ever be.  They were trying to game the system against the top ten list.  So for boys, that eliminated Alex/Jake/Ben/Jack/Colin/Conor/Will/Sam/Luke/Adam/ and so on and so forth.

You are gambling when you try to make that prediction – certainly my parents never dreamed, when they chose Jennifer in 1958, that it would be the #1 name of the 1970s and 1980s.  And I bet Emily’s parents, also in the vanguard, were bummed when their lovely, unusual baby name choice became the top name of the 1990s. 

Despite the popularity of actors Hugh Jackman, Hugh Grant, and Hugh Laurie, I don’t see the name taking off wildly.  And I would make a similar prediction on Malcolm. 

It’s good to be different. 

But not too weird.

Are you happy with your own first name?
If you’re a parent, how hard was it to choose baby names?
Did any of them go on to soar in popularity?
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