Sarah and Noemi were at the dinner table. I was in the comfy chair. Griffin was hovering somewhere above the comfy chair as we played the superman (superbaby?) game. He was smiling, which he does a lot these days, but then his grin expanded and he let out a loud, robust giggle. Noemi and Sarah both recognized it, without seeing his face. (Which is new… in the past we’ve seen him kinda-laugh, but if you weren’t looking at him you couldn’t tell if it was a laugh or some sort of squeak or maybe even the beginning of a cry.) So, for the record: Griffin’s first laugh, Monday, June 8, 2009 after dinner.
Many people have asked us about the origin of Griffin’s name. The simple answer is that we both love the name. We hope he will too.
I have had dozens, if not hundreds, of conversations about baby names in my life. It’s one of those topics that comes up frequently, often in the context of making fun of an unusual name, or wondering “What were they thinking when they came up with that name???” People often list all the silly names they’ve heard over the years, and then provide their Philosophy of Naming as if it were self-evident wisdom that all good parents share. So there’s some pressure around the naming of a child.
Considering this, Sarah and I had a surprisingly good time coming up with possible names. We began keeping a list by the bed early in the pregnancy and would add to it whenever inspiration struck. Occasionally we would go over them together, crossing off anything that didn’t work for either of us. In the process we shared the (sometimes odd) associations we had with various names, and discussed our own evolving ideas about what type of name to choose. Did we want to go with a family name? A traditional name? A wild and wacky name? We realized that for a first name we simply wanted a name that we both loved. If it had no family connections, we would use the middle name for that.
Sarah had always had good associations with the name Griffin since she had childhood friends named Gwynne, Griffin, and Gillian (what a cool set of names!) Although this particular Griffin was a girl, Sarah suggested it as a boy’s name. My first thought when Sarah mentioned it was, “No way… that’s way too D&D!” (We might as well go whole-hog and name him Frodo, right?) But I didn’t cross it off the list because I also had good associations with the name, mostly from Nick Bantock’s fabulous book, Griffin & Sabine. (If you haven’t read it, it is a collection of letters between the two characters, and it is gloriously creative and romantic — go read it now.)
I also have a soft spot for the mythological creature: part lion, king of the beasts, and part eagle, king of the birds. Like a dragon, it was often used in medieval heraldry. More importantly, griffins are less tainted than dragons with pop-cultural and cheesy fantasy role-playing game associations.
“This is called a GRIFFIN because it is a winged quadruped. This kind of wild animal is born in Hyperborean parts, or in mountains. All its bodily members are like a lion’s, but its wings and mask are like an eagle’s. It is vehemently hostile to horses. But it will also tear to pieces any human beings which it happens to come across.”
— White, T. H., trans. The Book of Beasts: Being a Translation from a Latin Bestiary of the Twelfth Century
But we do not live in the middle ages, so we did a bit of additional research. How popular is the name these days? Is it wildly popular — a “fad” name? Or is it so rare that it will just be weird… like naming your child “Echidna” (another mythological creature). Thanks to the internet, we answered these questions in a jiffy.
The following graph, based on social security registrations, shows how the name “Griffin” started gaining popularity in the 90s, peaking at just over 200 (where “1” would be the most popular name that year). It has been fairly steady since then, ranking somewhere between 200 and 250. This seemed good to us… not too popular, and not too exotic.
As the weeks and months passed, Sarah and I tried out many different names, but we kept coming back to Griffin. It felt simple and fun. It reminded me of my niece’s name, Raven, which I have always loved. It felt right. By the time he was born, there was no doubt: he was Griffin.
Griffin got a bunch of nasty shots today, which has him feeling pretty low. But the doc confirmed what we already suspected: he’s doing great. Here are the numbers (with percentiles in parentheses):
- Weight: 11 lb 9 oz (53%)
- Height: 22 3/4 in (50%)
- Head Circumference: 15.98 in (70%)
[Update: at our 4 month visit the doctor thought that maybe they screwed up his head measurements during this visit. Or maybe his head is growing in fits and starts.]