I love being a high school teacher because I get to listen to the ridiculous conversations of romantic teenagers. Often times, the conversations are about events that are out of their control. Girls love to talk about their future families.
“When I get older, I am going to get married at 26 and then have two kids. First, it will be a boy and we will name him Caleb. Two years later, we will have a girl we will name her Sarah. That way, I will be done having kids by thirty.”
Because I love to eavesdrop, I often insert myself into their conversations. “Are you dating anyone seriously?” I ask. (The humor of asking a sixteen or seventeen year old about a serious relationship does not allude me.)
“No, I will meet him in college. It will be perfect.” It is always the same, a hopeful sigh and dreamy eyes. Definitive, she knows her future–as if one can decide when one will fall in love, as if one can decide DNA and the attachment of X and Y chromosomes to an egg.
I cannot deny that I was like this. I thought I would be married by 25. However, 25 came and went, and I had not met a man I considered my soul mate. No, that happened in August of my 26th year of life. Two years later we were married, and a year after that, we decided to start a family. I presumed, as the young ladies do in my class, that I would have two children: a boy and then a girl.
After Maggie was born, I realized that if I stopped at two children, I would have two girls. I wanted for Tom to have a boy because I think that all men want a son, so I knew I would be willing to try for the third. Right after Maggie turned one, I told Tom I was willing to try. I did a little research online about ways to increase your chances for a boy, and I put Tom on a strict regiment. He was only to take cold showers. he had to eat more protein, and he had to drink plenty of caffeine. He was supposed to do this for thirty days and then we could start trying. The problem was that I think I was already pregnant when he started this routine because three and half weeks in, I had missed my period, and when I peed on the stick, there were two lines instead of one.
At twenty weeks, we went for an ultrasound. We knew neither one of us could wait another twenty weeks to find out if we were going to have a boy, so we decided to find out the sex of the baby. The whole way to the appointment I prayed that we had conceived a boy. The whole way home from the appointment I cried because I felt like Tom was going to miss out on some magical bond with the son we would never have. You see, we agreed that we would not go past three, even if number three was going to be a girl.
Tom assured me that he did not need a boy. Carson, who was four, already liked to watch NASCAR and football with him. She liked when we took her to Indians games, and she liked hanging out with her dad. What he thought would be the activities he enjoyed with a son, he was very much enjoying with his oldest daughter. Truly, he said he was okay, and all he cared about was that we were having a healthy baby yet again.
Putting my mind at ease, we had to start another conversation about names. It was just at the beginning of football season, and the Buckeyes were dominating the field. Every Saturday, we oozed scarlet and grey, and the rest of the week, we waited in breathless anticipation.
“I think we should call her Scarlet Grey,” Tom said to me. “How cool is that? She would have to go to OSU!”
For a second, I entertained the idea. It was original. It was super cute. I liked the name Scarlet. However, neither one of us graduated from Ohio State. Tom went to Ohio University and I graduated from Baldwin-Wallace College. (Do you see how I wrote “graduated”. I actually went to three colleges for undergraduate and it took me seven years to get through. In my years as a wandering soul, I attended Miami of Ohio for a year and Ohio University for a quarter before I ended up coming home and commuting to BW.)
“That doesn’t make any sense. Neither one of us went to Ohio State,” I told him.
“But we’re fans,” he pleaded.
“Not crazy fans.” I could tell he didn’t agree. He was a crazy fan, and he was just crazy enough to name the child after his favorite school. I came up with an idea. “If we are going to name her after a school, let’s name her after OU. I went there, too, you know.”
“How the hell do we do that?”
“We could name her Roberta Katrina. We could combine the names and call her Bobcat. I would be willing to do that.”
He didn’t think it was cute. He didn’t want a kid named after a mascot. No, that was ludicrous! That was going too far!
He skulked away from our conversation disappointed. He wasn’t getting a boy and he wasn’t getting the name he wanted. I didn’t want him to resent me, so I threw him a proverbial bone. “Honey, I have an idea. How about we come up with a traditional first name and we use Scarlet as her middle name?”
He thought this a fair compromise. We were paying his beloved Buckeyes some homage, not as much as he had hoped for, but the thought was there. He was all right with it, but he agreed we would have to agree on the first name.
Although he thought my Bobcat idea was ridiculous, the next idea I had he liked. In the fall of 2004, my parents had just opened a new bar, Tom was the manager, and we were quickly developing regulars. As anyone knows, regulars like to feel a part of something, they like to feel like the bar is an extension of their own home. I decided we would run a contest at the bar. People would enter the “Baby Name” Contest, and the person who picked the name we finally chose, would get a fifty dollar gift certificate to the bar.
People loved it! We ran the contest for two weeks, and we literally had hundreds of entries. Of course, depending on the state of mind of some of the people, some of the entries were never in the running. The drunks stared at the bottles and wanted us to name her after something alcoholic: Bailey, Brandy, and Chardonnay come to mind.
After two weeks, we sifted through the entries, and we agreed on a name. In February of 2005, we would deliver Elizabeth Scarlet.