Naming a baby is hell, especially when it’s a boy and especially when the responsible parties are equally overly particular and chronically indecisive. Such is our fate. My husband and I now have 68 days (but who’s counting?) to stop referring to our new family member as the Baby and file his existence with the Social Security Department. We’ve made lists on a little marker board on our fridge. I have a running Notes app in my phone. A running list in my head. None have clicked, none seem the obviously correct choice. I figured we’d be in the same position we found ourselves in with our first baby, which was finally throwing up our hands and naming him the day we left the hospital.
But then late last night while staring at my phone, I found — and by “found” I mean read about in a BabyCenter thread — a baby-naming app that I am convinced will change my fate. Prior to last night I did not see myself, an intellectual, as a person who would use an app to name my baby. But prior to last night I had no hope.
Prior to last night I did not know about Kinder, which is pronounced, I can only assume, like Tinder with a K, as it was presented to me as “Tinder for baby names.” And I just hope I am not going to get these good people in legal trouble because I LOVE KINDER.
The mechanics are perhaps self-explanatory: You choose BOY or GIRL or DON’T KNOW YET, you enter in a last name, and then the app starts displaying you options. Instead of profiles of humans, you get baby names. Swipe left for “Nah …” and right for “Sounds good!” You invite a partner, and when you swipe right on a name they have also said yes to, the screen turns green and announces you have a match.
When I started this endeavor, my Kinder partner, Dustin, was giving our human child a bath and putting him to bed. I sent him a text invite to the app, not sure if he would roll his eyes and refuse to play along or if I would get lucky and he would roll his eyes and then play along. I furiously rejected names as they appeared rapid-fire on my phone, feeling no urge to cycle through social media or stare dead-eyed at pregnancy forums. On Kinder, I am decisive. I know what I like. It is not Kylan, Miller, Jon, Kolten, Phoenix (respect tho), Darren, Kash — I could go on. By eliminating these ridiculous prospects I do feel like I am accomplishing something. I want to believe I am informing an algorithm of my own taste, but I don’t actually think the app is that sophisticated. No matter. Soon enough I just reflexively hit “Nah,” barely stopping to consider a name I might have otherwise, and feel a sort of kinship with my friends who get to do this with real people.
Once Dustin finishes reading stories, he appears in our bedroom doorway with his phone in hand. I can see he got the invite, and I am nervous. I try to make it a joke, but I can’t help but express my enthusiasm. “IT RULES!” I yell to him, supine on the bed, unsure how willing I am to take my turn in the bedtime shuffle.
“Wait,” he says and makes a joke: “What if Tinder was about finding a partner based on what baby names you like?” This would, of course, be a terrible way to meet someone. Then again, it turns out I unwittingly married a man who wants to name our baby Wilbur.
I give in and heave my pregnant body out of our bed and into a smaller one, the one where our firstborn is jumping, trying to fight off sleep. I fall asleep before he does, and then wake up at 2 a.m., moaning as I trying to arrange my skeleton and the nearly 200 pounds it’s carrying into an upright position. Naturally, I can’t sleep, but am delighted to fire up Kinder and find that my partner has joined me here in the land of the variable-ratio reward schedule. After swiping left through what must be 1,000 baby names, we have a single match. But I swear I will go through every damn name in their database trying to find another.