|Sterling is not impressed with my attempts to take a passport picture.|
Here's the deal with the name we gave this baby boy of ours. As you know, we were having a hard time coming up with something that fit all of our crazy requirements, to say nothing of said name matching our existing family names, etc. I was not exaggerating when I called this a curse - Jeremy and I literally could not agree. When we finally got around to talking about it, it was an exercise in frustration and almost-hurt feelings, even with our non-judgmental Google Doc.
I feel like the breakthrough came when I used my friend Liz's strategy of having us each assign a number ranking to the names on our list. Then we could take a look at the lowest combined totals to see where we really stood when it came to actually giving a certain name to an actual baby. That moved the discussion away from the vagaries of "like"/"don't really like" to "this is a name that I would absolutely give this baby, and this is not."
Once we put in our rankings, our preferences became more clear to each other, and we were able to move forward on a first name. Sterling is a name with a beautiful meaning (pure), and it has the special bonus feature of having an Arabic equivalent that we can use for a short name or even as the primary name, if we feel like it: Safi (SAH-fee). As for where we got Sterling to begin with - a good friend of ours who studied with Jeremy in Damascus is named Sterling. It's not that we named our baby after him so much as that he put the name on our radar in the first place, and he is an awesome person, so we both have really positive associations with the name. Besides him, I've only ever known one other Sterling and he was nice, too. So there you go. Sterling.
Now, the middle name. Any specific wrangling that went on in that arena is our own private business, but yes, we ended up with Sultan, which seems to have surprised a lot of people. It moves ever so slightly away from our using a strictly geographical tribute as a middle name, but it still works. Check it out: Sultan is a regular ol' given name in Arabic, and most Sultans are Emirati, or Omani, or Saudi. So it is a name with strong connections to the Gulf, and the UAE in particular. Furthermore, it is the name of the Sheikh of Sharjah, His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed al Qassimi, so it is a nice tribute to Sharjah, specifically. It is also the name of the ruler of Oman.
Of course, in English, Sultan is a word with a meaning, not a name, but the fact that it is recognizable and pronounceable is an asset.
Most importantly, Miriam got her wish that this baby would have a name starting with S, so the kids together can be "M&MS." Hooray!