A unique namesake idea

Not everyone names children after relatives or friends. Some take inspiration from literature, film, music, and popular culture.

And some people make the presumably rather uncommon decision to name a baby after a much-loved doll or stuffed animal from childhood.

While some kids don’t like stuffed toys very much and strongly prefer things like model cars, science kits, and kites, I think it’s safe to assume most kids have at least one special doll or stuffed animal. Boys as well as girls can also enjoy and love dolls, just as some girls always prefer stuffed animals to dolls.

If a child acquires this cuddly friend at a very young age, that doll or stuffed animal will become a major part of their life growing up. Sometimes a special toy is the one constant in a very difficult childhood.

There are so many touching stories about cuddly friends who were with children all during wars, civil upheavals, totalitarian dictatorships, abusive childhoods, poverty, orphanage upbringings, long journeys to a new country, etc.

When it comes time to have children, that doll or stuffed animal’s name may spring to mind as the most natural, perfect namesake. Obviously, this presumes it’s a normal name that works on a human in that language, not something like Precious, Gumdrop, or Babykins!

It also seems more meaningful if it’s a name the child chose, instead of the name the toy came with or a name bestowed by someone else. Even if you give a child a doll or stuffed animal at a very young age, you should leave it unnamed so the child can select the name later.

My character Tatyana Tvardovskaya-Koneva names her firstborn Kira after her first doll, a ragdoll with brown braids, whom her father braved the influenza pandemic to buy when she was a few days old. When she was six weeks old, he finally gave it to her.

That doll was with her all during the terror and uncertainty of the Russian Civil War, including several very close escapes from being killed. Tatyana also made the long journey to America with her dear doll, and it remained her dearest toy during her family’s difficult life in a tenement.

When she was probably about four years old, Tatyana named her Kira. No other name felt just right for her first child.

“Yes, exactly like my doll. I never forgot how you braved the flu pandemic to buy me my first doll, and how you kept her with you for six weeks until you gave her to me. That doll represents all the love you’ve always had for me, though you’re not my blood father. Now you have your own Kira to share with me, and you’ll be able to love her just as much as I loved my first Kira growing up.”

My character Inga Savvina likewise names her firstborn child after her dear doll Dotnara, whom her unjustly imprisoned mother made and gave to her as a fifth birthday present. Dotnara comes along with her when a high school graduation present vacation to Vladivostok in 1942 turns into a defection to Shanghai and eventually a journey to America to meet the father who has no idea Inga exists.

Dotnara is the one constant in Inga’s life through so much upheaval and uprooting, her one friend left from home whom she’ll never have to say goodbye to. She’s also particularly special because she came from Inga’s missing mother.

Again, no other name fits just right when Inga becomes a mother herself.

Would you ever consider naming a child after a particularly beloved doll or stuffed animal? Do you know anyone named after one? What’s the name of your dearest childhood cuddly buddy?

2 thoughts on “A unique namesake idea

  1. The only stuffed animal I remember having was a bear that was as big as I was (when I was 3) who had the name Egbert, which I’m sure my father came up with as a name. Never heard of anyone who was named for a toy…

  2. Interesting idea. I also wonder if some people accidentally name their children after a toy, because they gave the toy their favourite name, and it remained their favourite name when they had their own child, so they used it again.

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