No, name

A and R are at the age now where at any moment they might utter their first proper word. In order to encourage them I am repeating certain words frequently, and the most frequent of them all is “no”.

Sometimes I add sentences in order to teach them grammar. Things like, “no, A, don’t hit your brother,” or “no, R, don’t climb on the TV.” They generally will stop what they were doing, so I am fairly confident that right now they understand more than they can say. In particular, I am sure that they know their own names. You can see it in the way that A will ignore me when I tell R to stop hitting himself in the face with a plastic bottle, and vice versa.

Having twins forces you to think fast about names. Not for us the leisurely option of choosing one, getting used to it for a few years and then turning our minds to the next one. Instead, we needed two at once and both for boys. We had one boy’s name that we both loved, chosen many years ago when we first gently speculated about the prospect of having children. We also had plenty of girls’ names that we liked, but they were all rendered useless the moment we heard “it’s a boy” for the second time. So we needed a second boy’s name, and fast.

For several months names preoccupied us. We came in from work fizzing with new ideas, shouted them out on crowded tubes (often causing a stranger to pop his head up from his book as we accidentally hit on his name) and mumbled them as we read through baby name internet sites. There are, we discovered, an awful lot of names, and most with an awful lot of connotations. Consequently, most names were instantly rejected on the basis that (a) we knew, and didn’t like, someone who already had it, (b) it didn’t go with the name we had already chosen or (c) we didn’t know how to spell it. As my due date rapidly approached, it seemed one of our twins was destined to have no name.

But of course, we found the right one eventually. A small group of names became lodged in our minds. We revisited them, testing whether they sounded right and, in what I fully accept is an enormously middle class way, researching them to see if they had any horrendous historical or cultural associations. And one name in particular passed all the tests, and just in time given the unexpected appearance of the boys nearly two months early.

So now we have one name that we love because it was part of our first ever discussion about children, and one that we love because it was part of our anticipating twins. They came to us in very different ways but fit perfectly into our family, making me wonder whether, somehow, we would always have hit upon them.

It was purely a fluke, however, that they both roll off the tongue so easily after the word “no”.

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