We knew that Jasper was going to be Jasper for months before he was born. From the moment that we found out that he – hitherto referred to as Sprout – was going to be a he, he was Jasper. Jasper. It was a name for eccentric old English uncles, for suspender-wearing artists pottering about in skylit attics, for crusty old men with beards restoring boats and smoking pipes on pebble-strewn beaches, for boys in knee-britches chasing rabbits in heather fields. Jasper. I loved the name. I knew that it was his name with as much certainty as I’ve ever known anything.
My mother hated it. Oh, honey, she said when I told her. Oh, honey, really?
The lesson, don’t tell anyone what you’re planning on naming your child, hadn’t sunk in from my first pregnancy, when she pulled an oh honey no on Emilia’s original name, Theo. Really, Mom. And it’s not up for discussion.
But what will you call him for short?
— What does that matter, Mom? We’ll call him what we call him. Which, I thought, was a perfectly sensible response. After all, we couldn’t have guessed in advance that we’d refer to Emilia as Budge (my mother calls her Milly, Jasper calls her Maya, but she is and will always be, to her father and me, Budge or Budgie. And no, we do not know why. She just is Budge.) How could we know what we would call Jasper? That would sort itself out after he arrived.