TODAY'S PAPER
50° Good Morning
50° Good Morning
LifestyleFamily

LI parents get creative naming their kids

Nylan Rodriguez of Amityville, now 5, has an

Nylan Rodriguez of Amityville, now 5, has an unusual name that his parents made up, says mom Jovonna Rodriguez. Photo Credit: Handout

It's August, and that means lots of new baby names -- more children are born every year during July, August and September than any other period, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics.

Some newborns are sure to have unique monikers, following the trend of celebrities who have chosen such names as Apple (Gwyneth Paltrow) or Suri (Tom Cruise). The latest: Victoria and David Beckham named their daughter, born last month, Harper Seven -- seven was David's jersey number for Manchester United, an English soccer team that plays in the Premiere League.

Parents choose unusual names to be different and recognized, says Juann Watson, a therapist in private practice in Valley Stream. "They want the satisfaction of creating their own precious gift and naming it what they want to," she says. Watson has had firsthand experience with an unusual name -- hers is pronounced "Joo-wan," not Joo-ann as many people think, she says. As an adult, she has found that people are intrigued by the story of her name -- she's from Barbados and her name was chosen by her dad. (It's not a common name in Barbados, either, Watson says.)

Cons also exist when choosing an unusual name, says Jae Liza Alequin, 29, of Carle Place. People frequently called her Joe Liza, and also would just call her simply Jae, thinking Liza was her middle name. Kids at school teased her; she also could never find personalized products that other girls could.

"When I had my three kids, I said, 'There's no way I'm naming them a name nobody knows about,' " Alequin says. The Social Security Administration keeps an annual ranking of the most popular U.S. names. Jae Liza picked Derek (2010 rank: 169), Jared (2010 rank: 242) and Kayla (2010 rank: 49).

Here are the stories of some Long Islanders who picked names that didn't even rank in the top 1,000, and why they chose them.


Name: Nylan Rodriguez

(pronounced Nie-lin)

Gender: male

Age now: 5

Town: Amityville

Jovonna Rodriguez and her husband, Robert, say they wanted all their boys to have a first name beginning with "N." Older brothers are Nico and Nyles; Jovonna says she and her husband made up the name Nylan because there wasn't another "N" name they liked. "It could be a name he could grow up with and not be ashamed, something he could be proud of," she says. "There might be another one out there in the world, but I haven't heard it." Not everyone calls Nylan by his given name, though; his brothers nicknamed him "Cha Cha" because he was so antsy as a baby and toddler.

Name: Cathal Bergin

(pronounced Ka-hull)

Gender: male

Age now: 10

Town: Lynbrook

Julie and Martin Bergin say they first considered naming their son Michael, but there were already many Michaels on Martin's side of the family. The Bergins both immigrated from Ireland, and they were enamored by the Gaelic origin of Cathal. They soon gave up calling their firstborn that, though, because it was so difficult for people to understand. "One lady thought his name was 'Taco,' " Julie says. "That's one of our family stories we joke about." Because schoolteachers mangled the name so badly, the family started calling Cathal "Kyle" instead. Says Cathal: "It gets annoying when the teacher keeps saying it wrong." In retrospect, Julie says, she regrets choosing something so exotic. She and Martin even considered legally changing Cathal's name but didn't go through with it, hoping that in his 20s, Cathal will appreciate his Irish heritage. But when the Bergins had a second child, they went with the tried-and-true: Emily.

Name: Lenox Bird

(pronounced like the brand of china)

Gender: female

Age now: 19 months

Town: Rockville Centre

When Kaitlyn Bird was working as a nanny, she and her employer were going through a baby name book, trying to come up with names for the employer's third child. One section had names from Shakespearean plays, and Kaitlyn liked the male name Lennox, a character who was a Scottish lord in "Macbeth." She liked it better as a girl's name, though, and so deleted one of the "Ns" to make it seem more feminine, she says. As a boy's name, Lennox was No. 933 on the Social Security Administration list for 2010; as a girl's name, it's not in the top 1,000. Bird also loved reading "The Secret Garden" with her grandmother as a child, and the character in that book is named Mary Lennox. The Birds' second daughter, incidentally, is due this week. They plan to name her Madelyn, ranked No. 76.

More Family