Like most parents, we wanted to give our child a great name. From the moment we found out we were having another boy we started brainstorming. Our naming process ends up being a lot of ruling out. Can’t start with K, A or E since those initials were already occupied in our family. Can’t end in “s” (like our first son, since the possessive is hard to say). Can’t end with an “en” or “er” because we live in the South and that invites a weird drawl. Can’t be a noun or a verb since our last name is an adjective/adverb. So after all of that we finally came to a name we loved.

We told our toddler the name. Once. Just to make sure he could say it. We spent the next five months referring only to “baby brother” so that our secret would be safe. We kept the name to ourselves to build excitement and to combat the rather deflating conversation I had daily when I was pregnant:

Anyone: “Aw, what are you having?”

Me: “Another boy.”

Anyone: “Oh…” (whomp, whomp…) “What’s his name?”

Me: “Not telling. You will just have to wait and see.”

Our toddler has the memory of an elephant. He can scrounge up random details from over half a lifetiime ago. Once he told me that he remembered being born and that it sounded, “loud, like a combine harvester.” OK kid, sounds about right to me.

Still, we were shocked when he announced, out of the blue, at our final prenatal appointment that he wanted to listen to the heartbeat of “Calvin” (perfectly enunciated and clear as day), not “baby brother.”

Calvin was born a few days later. People were surprised (mostly because we named our son after a cartoon boy; the best cartoon boy in history, but still). It was great. Of course, in the first few weeks we started getting lazy with the two syllables we selected and sliding into nicknames. Calvin became “Cal.” A sweet shortening, but one that had not been proofed through a toddler’s mouth. “Cal” in 2.5 year old language is “cow.” So now all day long I hear “Where is baby Cow?” “Is Cow ok?” and my favorite: “Mommy, Cow wants some milk.”

My maiden name meant “cow” and I got called that my whole life; I hoped I had married up and out of that name. But now it looks like I am right back where I started, and I guess Ellis will get the last laugh for reworking our carefully selected name.

Although we never call him “Ellis.”

We call that kid “Bug.”