06 June, 2013

Why'd You Name Your Baby 'Kay-Jell'?!

via

Trust me when I say that no one was more thrown off-guard by our last-minute change of the spelling of "Kjel" than we were. 

It took us almost the entire pregnancy to decide on Kjel's name, which, ultimately we thought would be "Kelle". It took us FOR.EV.ER to choose a name. Read about that here and here. So why did we abandon the cute, phonetic "Kelle" and opt for the random, completely hard-to-figure-out "Kjel"? This is why.

We knew that we wanted to name her a variation of "Kelly". Someday I'll delve more into that, but the short story is that a woman named Kelly changed our life while I was pregnant with KJ. We spent a few days exploring different ideas, and decided that the sound "Kel" was what we wanted. So we started looking at different spellings. I naturally wanted something that was pretty, easy, and looked complete when written out. We decided Kelle was it and bam bam, thank you ma'am, we put it out of our minds and got ready for delivery.

A day or so before I was induced, just for kicks we looked up some alternate spellings. We found the Irish Kel, the Norwegian Kjell and Danish Kjel. I opened up my family history folder on the computer and started scrolling through some of our Scandinavian family lines. I found "Kjel" as a surname quite a bit and it started to stick with me. Steven loved "Kjel". LOVED it. I wasn't so sure. I like phonetic, you know? But I kept writing down the different spellings on the back of receipts, notebooks, coloring books, just pondering. What would she be like? What would she want? Would she like to stand out or would she prefer to have a more normal name? 

I was so neutral, I put Switzerland to shame. I just decided that whatever happened was fine. If she was Kelle, great. If she was Kjel, awesome. Either way, I was good. I had other things to think about in preparation for delivery and put it out of mind because I am like a mastermind at procrastination compartmentalizing. 

So anyway, she was born. They asked us how to spell her name and I just nodded to Steven a, "let's do whatever you want to do" nod. He raised his eyebrows like, "Are you absolutely sure?" I nodded and he said,

"K-J-E-L."

And that was that. 

Since then we've had about a bazillion mispronunciations from like, everyone, but really it's not a big deal. We knew it came with the territory. We haven't had one rude comment or eyeroll (in front of us, that is. Hey, you, stop rolling your eyes behind your computer screen and tell me like a man that you think my baby's name is stupid! Just kidding!) But really. Folks have been sweet about it. And when we started calling her KJ after a couple of days, we realized there is nothing more fitting for our sweet little princess to be called. She's KJ. Through and through. 


So you want to give your kid a non-phonetic name, but you're worried people will mispronounce it/be mean about it

Here are some ideas for you:

- If you are taking them to a place where their name will be announced (like a doctor's office, or a school/play-group), approach someone before their name is called with the correct pronunciation. For example, KJ has had three different pediatricians because we moved so much in her first year. Each time, I'd approach the receptionist upon check-in, and say something like this, "I'm checking in Kjel, K-J-E-L Redfern. Would you mind making a note in her file that her name is pronounced like 'bell' with a 'k'?" They were always really nice about it and rarely did a nurse call her back without the correct pronunciation. 

- Teach your older children how to explain the pronunciation of the name. I can't tell you how much easier it makes it when someone says, "So what's this little one's name?" And Gage replies, "That's my sister, Kjel. Her name rhymes with Bell." Sometimes I get asked to spell it and since they already know the pronunciation, everything goes more smoothly.

- Be the first to acknowledge it's unique. When you wait for someone to be like, "K-Jell?! Why'd you name your baby K-Jell?!" It just gets awkward fast. If, instead, when you are introducing your family or whatever you say something like, "And this is our baby Kjel. Her name is spelled with a silent J - it can be a little confusing when you read it without knowing how to say it." Boom. Done.

Lastly, we love Kjel's name. We think it looks and sounds beautiful, just like our little girl. We want her to be proud of it. We don't make excuses for it or apologize when people mispronounce it - we just smile and correct them and say, yes, we just loved the name and thought it fit her so well! And you know what, if they don't like it, oh well. Even though she's still a tiny little thing, we have gotten in the habit of speaking positively about her name, and only positively, so that when she's old enough to understand she won't feel embarrassed or apologetic for having such a unique name.

How about you? Is your name "normal" or a little more unique? Do you prefer it that way?

17 comments:

  1. This isn't really the same thing, but my daughter's name is Ivie. Most people think it's spelled, Ivy. It's a family name, so it's really special to us. You're better than me, cause it drives me CRAZY when people spell it wrong. ;) Luckily they usually say it right.

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    1. I love "Ivie"! What a beautiful name!

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  2. I feel dumb because I really thought it was pronounced kay-jell. Thought it was a family name or something, which apparently, it is! I really really love it after the explanation, and the nickname KJ is ADORBS.

    Also...there are wayyy weirder names to be worried about that Kjel. Promise. I used to work in Labor and Delivery, and a lady there was telling me about the craziest names she's ever had to put on a birth certificate. Get this...somebody asked her if they could name their child "Newborn Baby"

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    1. Haha! that is so funny that you thought it was really K-Jell.

      I can't believe someone would want to name their baby newborn baby. Crazy world we live in!

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  3. I LOVE the name Kjel! It think it is such a sweet, sweet name. And the spelling is so fun! Sweet and fun... who doesn't like that? A+ on the name :) I love that you gave Steven "the nod" and allowed him to choose. I think that is so sweet. My middle name is Collins and I HATED it growing up. But now I love it! I sometimes wish I named Hollins, "Collins". Oh well. We love the name Hollins. When I tell people her name they say, "H-H-Hollins?" hahah yes, HOLLINS! Then I get the, "Oh that's interesting." Or, "Okay, that's different." Which really means, "I don't like it" haha But that's okay because I do :)

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    1. Thanks Catie! I think Hollins is adorable and it fits her so well, especially with those gorgeous blonde curls :) She's definitely a 'holly-pop" ;)

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  4. For me, the worst part is the stupid automated systems (like when I'm setting up utilities for my new home) that can never get my name right. Currently I get bills for Denalde, Denabe, Deenali .. none of our home bills come to me with the correct spelling of my name. This is true. But I learned, REALLY early in life to introduce myself with confidence and if it's over the phone to immediately spell it afterwards. Anyway, Kjel fits your little princess perfectly. PERFECTLY.

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  5. For me, the worst part is the stupid automated systems (like when I'm setting up utilities for my new home) that can never get my name right. Currently I get bills for Denalde, Denabe, Deenali .. none of our home bills come to me with the correct spelling of my name. This is true. But I learned, REALLY early in life to introduce myself with confidence and if it's over the phone to immediately spell it afterwards. Anyway, Kjel fits your little princess perfectly. PERFECTLY.

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    1. Haha! Honalee, too.

      Thanks Mom :)

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  6. Loved reading this Brooke-- I loved her name from the start, I am proud to say, but love it even more now. Way to go for not caring what people think! Having spent some time in Scandenavia, I am pretty sure I would have pronounced it correctly had I just seen it. Those awkward reactions are the worst though, so my heart goes out to you on that-- just like when girls (basically every single one) asked to see my wedding ring/engagement ring that first year and when I showed them and it was just a band... people stumbing to find something to say... just awkward. I LIKE IT and that's what matters though. I started prefacing it anyway before I showed anyone to avoid that awkward gulp. Before holding up my hand, I would say, "It's just a band" to prepare them... haha People are so silly sometimes.

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    1. Thanks Michaela! I'm glad that it looks "right" when you've been in Scandenavia.

      And as for your wedding ring - I thought it was beautiful! Simple and elegant :) Mine is pretty simple, too, and I got some weird comments, but you're right. We love them and that's what matters.

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  7. Funny. I can totally relate to this post because I'm a Katie minus the "e". My whole life I had teachers, friends and family members who misspelled my name. It bothered me having to correct strangers who spelled my name with an e, but what never bothered me was that my name had meaning. Although Kati is a fairly common name (especially while I was growing up--- I'm pretty sure I was always Kati "L" for my last name and even occasionally Kati Lindquist becuae there was more than one Katie "L"). I digress... my name's spelling is shortened from Katidid (as in the bug- which isn't super cute), but my Great grandpa who died after my mom was born always said she was as cute as a little katidid bug, thus I became Kati with an "i", no "e" and I couldn't imagine it any other way. :) I like Kjel, and I'm sure she'll love her name as much and you and Steven do/ did.

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    1. Kati, I LOVE the story behind your name! That is so sweet!

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  8. I loved reading about the naming of your daughter. I've never seen it spelled Kjel, but I think it's an absolutely precious name. Plus, KJ is such an adorable nickname. My family and I have similar issues with the spelling of our names. My father is Glenn (with the extra 'n'), my mother is Rachelle (pronounced like Rachel), and I'm Ashlee (with an 'e' not a 'y'). We all have pretty common names, but they're not spelled the typical ways. I've never really struggled with people pronouncing my name, but I can't tell you how many times I've gotten something with 'Ashley' on it. Whenever I tell people my name like over the phone or at the doctor's office, I have to spell it out like you recommended. It saves so much time.

    Such a wonderful post!

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    1. Thanks Ashlee! I actually knew a girl in high school whose name is spelled just like yours. I think it is a sweeter, softer way to spell it and I love it!

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  9. I confess: I blog-stalk you via Elka's blog.

    My name is Hila. A family name (I have an Aunt Hila, a Great-Aunt Hila and a Great-Great Grandmother Hila). But one that came with (and still comes with) many mispronunciations! I had a teacher who called me Hilda all year long. When I was young, I hated my name. I wished I was named Tiffany or Stacy (I don't know why now, though). But now I love my name. I love what it means. I love that it is relatively unique. I married someone who loves unique names, and we have chosen to give our daughter one that isn't very common and may get some mispronunciations based on how we've chosen to spell it. I think it's cool to have a story behind the name, and I really enjoyed reading the story behind your KJ's spelling :).

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    1. Hi!!! Nice to meet you :)

      Thanks for the comment. I LOVE the name Hila. Are we related? Steven's grandmother's name was Hila. I definitely agree that a cool story behind the name is what makes it so beautiful.

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