By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Dec 11, 2007 at 10:56 AM

For a month now, I’ve been trying to help a friend pick a name for her unborn baby. She doesn’t know the sex of the kid, nor does she plan to find out, so she’s shopping for a boy’s and a girl’s name. It’s been a lot of fun, but wow, it’s not easy to choose.

There’s just so much to consider, like what associations you have with the name, whether the name is popular or, worse yet, about to be popular and you don’t know it. (My mother says when she named my sister Jennifer in 1973, she had no idea she would grow up with two, three, even four other Jens, Jennys or Jennifers in her classroom.)

There’s also the question as to whether or not you should choose a unique name or a common name. It’s a fine line. I know of a girl named Magnolia and a boy named Anakin (yes, as in Darth Vader). Personally, I like both of these names, but I have heard remarks from other parents that these names will be difficult to live with as adults.

Hollywood actors are notorious for having unusual kids’ names, like Gwyneth Paltrow’s little Apple, John Travolta’s son Jett and Cher’s daughter, who is named Chastity (now that’s a hard name to live up to).

I struggled with whether or not to pick a unique or more common name with my oldest son, Kai River, which no doubt sounds extraordinarily hippie. However, if he goes Alex P. Keaton on me, the name allows him the less Woodstock-sounding option of simply calling himself Kai. Also, his middle name is William, so he could easily go as Will someday if he wanted.

Because we only planned to have one child, I used both of my favorite boys’ names on Kai River. So trying to name my second son wasn’t easy. I had a slew of names on my list: Simon, Kahlil, Harper, Charlie, Valentino, Pablo, Dutch, Declan, Satchel, Jaden, but believe it or not, my husband didn’t like one of those names. He thought most of them were simply too weird.

Finally, he suggested Levi, which at first I thought was a bad choice because of the jeans reference, but then I thought, “Who doesn’t like jeans?” I also liked that the name, when the letters are rearranged, spells “evil” but it’s also one letter away from the word “love.” Plus, Levine is a family name, and I wanted to honor my Jewish side of the family. (Jews do not name after relatives that are still alive.)

Months later, we realized the first letters in our four first names spell out "JKLM," which made the Levi choice, on a slightly esoteric level, seem meant to be.

I've often questioned how much influence names have on a person or not. Is it coincidence that I know two lesbians named Leslie (probably)? What about the doctor who performed my friend's vasectomy named Peter Slocum?  Come on!

I think whatever name you get, at some point, kids will tease you about it. I grew up with people singing that song from "Schoolhouse Rock!" that goes “Molly, Molly, Molly get your adverbs here” (which as a pint-sized grammar enthusiast, I kind of liked) but was less fond of the Molly McButter reference and later, of course, the Molly Ringwald connection. And apparently, my last name was a moniker made for ridicule too, because I was called “Molly Snyder Apple Cider” and “Molly Spider.” Come to think of it, spell check still tries to replace my name with “Moldy Spider.” 

However, for the love of those named Molly, I have to shout out to Zach Braff who, in an epsiode of "Scrubs" featuring Heather Graham as a doctor named Molly Clock, says the line, "God bless Mollies everywhere." Amen to that.

Wonder if he ever got called Zach Barf?

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.