Finally, the name of the Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck baby has been announced: Seraphina Rose Elizabeth. A gorgeous choice, every bit as lovely as the name of her big sister Violet.
Still we can't help but wonder: Why did it take a more than a week for the celebrity couple to announce their new child's name. What was the holdup?
At first we thought Ben and Jen might be stumped for a name, taking their time to argue the merits of the various finalists. Would they choose another quirky name, Beatrice or Phoebe maybe?, or would they use Violet as a jumping off point for another flower or color name, like Lily or Scarlett? We thought maybe the couple, who seem to favor family names, might be wrestling over Patricia vs. Christine, their two mothers' names.
We even asked the the visitors to our site, nameberry, to vote on what kind of name the couple would choose, offering a prize of an advance copy of our new book Cool Irish Names for Babies to anyone who guessed the name on the nose. We were stunned when nearly 2000 people voted in the nameberry Jennifer Garner baby name poll, with the most respondents, 42 percent, saying they thought the couple would opt for a gently old-fashioned name.
If Ben and Jen were still in need of ideas, readers offered a couple hundred good ones, ranging from Caroline to Clara to Chole -- or was that supposed to be Chloe?
But apparently those suggestions didn't help, because there was still no name. What on earth was going on?
On Day Four, we did another nameberry poll, and were stunned to find that 95 percent of people believed Ben and Jen had already settled on a name but were keeping it to themselves. Most seemed to think the celebrity parents were just preserving a moment of privacy, but 17 percent took the cynical view that delaying the name announcement was a ploy to maximize publicity.
Celebrity baby names certainly have garnered their parents a measure of attention in recent years. That's not to say we think most Hollywood parents choose unusual baby names for their publicity value: actors are, after all, creative people living in a style-conscious world. But it's hard not to view some celebrity baby names -- Penn Jillette's Moxie Crimefighter, say, or Jason Lee's Pilot Inspektor -- as ploys for exposure.
Yet Jason Lee has still not announced the name of his second child, born last August. Perhaps he was surprised by the negative attention Pilot Inspektor attracted and wants to protect his child, or himself, from ridicule? Maybe he doesn't want to be more famous for his child's name than for his work? Maybe he wants privacy after all?
Or maybe he, along with Jen and Ben, have come to feel that a name is not an accessory, like a pair of cute little shoes, to be held up for admiration or criticism. Maybe they feel, as many people have for centuries, that a name embodies their darling child's identity, even their soul. And that's not something they're in a rush to share with the world.
Pamela Redmond Satran is a developer of nameberry.com and the coauthor of nine baby-naming books, including The Baby Name Bible and the upcoming Cool Irish Names for Babies.