Friday, February 24, 2012

On The Fun- and Danger- Of Nicknames

So far our naming standard has been a three syllable first name, one that's at least slightly unusual, and a far more common nickname by which the kids most frequently are called. Part of this was intentional (that there be an obvious, go-to nickname) and part accidental (I didn't necessarily set out to have a three syllable name each time, but now it feels like a pattern I'd like to keep.)

The intentional part was mostly my preference, and it stemmed from the fact that with a short, no nonsense name like Sarah (mine, in case you're new here,) there are no commonly used nicknames, and so if one's friends want to call you by something more creative, they are forced to get... well, creative. This can sometimes be disastrous. Without going into the painful details, my high school nickname, by which my friends and sister still sometimes refer to me, was China. And many longer, more appalling versions of it which I won't share here because for heaven's sake I have SOME pride. (Only a very little, though. Chinese Chicken. CHINESE CHICKEN was something to which I ANSWERED.)

Now, I know that one can end up with an unfortunate nickname no matter what, but I was determined that since nicknames seem more or less inevitable, the least I could do was provide my children with a few easy and obvious shortened versions of their given name in case their friends or relatives started casting around for something special by which to call them. At this point I've been so pleased with my plan that it's an absolute essential to any name suggestion for this little girl in my belly: there must be a cute, commonly recognized nickname to accompany it. I should note though that I am aware many people feel entirely the opposite, and hated having named that were always shortened as a kid. They therefore might intentionally choose names that cannot be shortened for their own kids, and their motives are entirely as good as my own. Just wanted to throw that out there. I am not judging non-nickname-givers!

I also know that in many families, abbreviated names aside, kids often go by pet names that have nothing to do with their own name. We are in fact no different, and our kids have nonsense nicknames too- though we tend to keep them in the home, and certainly hope they manage to shed them before high school, unlike their unfortunate mom. Addy gets Sissy a lot (I do wonder what will happen to that now that she won't be the only sister in the house,) Eli is called Brewster, which was a name arrived at by a long and lengthy process no one can remember anymore, and Jamie, weirdly, I often refer to as Weasel Baby. I think it started when I realized how sneaky he is and how much silent mischief he can get into. Apparently I associate weasels with sneakiness. That's a common consensus, right, that weasels are sneaky? Or am I confusing them with some other animal? Maybe he should be called Raccoon Baby, I don't know. Weasel is more fun to say though.

What about your families? I want to hear all about your nicknames: your own, whether you like it or not, whether your kids have nicknames, and whether that was intentional or just naturally came about. Does anyone ever call your kids by nicknames you hate? (I know for us there have been several names we ruled out because we couldn't stand their common shortened forms.)


Hillary said...

The Boy is Rhys Monkey, like rhesus monkey ...

The Lad is Wes-debeest, like wildebeest. That also gets converted to just Beast or Beastie -- often enough that he calls himself Beastie.

My husband calls me by my middle name, Rue, and, weirdly enough, every boyfriend I've ever had has used my middle name as a short pet name. I guess it sounds nicer than shortening my name to Hill?

My mom and sister call me Hill. But almost no one else shortens my name. Some friends in high school called me Hildegard, which, well, I took. My grandpa calls me Beans, like Hill of Beans.

Pickles and Dimes said...

I was so jealous of kids who had nicknames! One year, my teacher started off by having everyone stand up and introduce themselves and tell the class what name they preferred to be called. All the Michaels and Jonathans and Samanthas stood up and asked to be called Mike and Jon and Sam, so when I stood up, I demanded to be called Shaun. (The teacher said, "Are you sure?" and I got embarrassed and quickly changed it back to Shauna.)

Tess said...

Chicka the China, THE CHINESE CHICKEN! Heh. Sorry.

We call all three of our girls "sis" or "sissie" and they call each other that as well. I think it's so cute!

I have never really had a good nickname. So sad.

Tracy said...

My name didn't lend itself to any good nick names, either. In high school people started calling me "Trixie" for a while, which I sort of felt like was a "working girl" sort of name.

Olivia I often call Liv or Livy-loo. Austin is often Bubba. Isaac we named with the intention of calling him "zeke", which is actually a certified nick name for isaac. :) Eliza- well, I don't really call her anything other than Eliza right now. Sometimes I call her E.C. for Eliza Claire. That's mainly in typing form, since I'm apparently too lazy to type out Eliza Claire. (whew. that took so much energy.)

Fran said...

Before I start, just remember: YOU ASKED!! lol
My hubby goes by Jayme which is a nickname for his middle name. His parents named him something with no intention of EVER calling him that which I think it...odd.
I was always called by my full name (Frances) in school until college so on my facebook, everyone who knew me before college will call me that and everyone who met me after calls me Fran, which I chose to go by when I got engaged because my last name would start with an S and the full name blended horribly with so many S sounds in a row. My mom occassionally calls me Prance and for a while called me Francie which I hated and wouldn't let anyone else call me.
Our oldest has a non-nicknamable name. Middle son goes by Clay or Clay-Clay (because of Jack-Jack in the Incredibles) at home and asked to be called by his full name of Clayton at school this year. Our daughter is another no-nickname name (Pattie) but we call her Sissy a lot. Or Sister/SisterPants.
I am also always coming up with things I will only call them once or twice. We use Bubba and More Bubba for the boys because Pattie called them that when she was itty bitty and precious.
I could really go on, but I should probably stop LOL

Saly said...

Same name, no nickname here. I was occasionally called "George" in high school on account of my maiden name, but not in any stickable way. People have tried to shorten my name to "Sar" and they are firmly told to never call me that again. Not a fan.

I am the nickname queen with my kids. Of course there are the usuals: Edmund is Eddie, Caitlyn is more often than not Cait and sometimes Caity, and Hannah is Hannie.

Their names around the house?? Eddie: Edster, Spaghedmund, Bud and Jr. Caitlyn: Lucy, Lula, Lula-bee,Cato-potato and Hannah calls her Caitlee which she HATES. Hannah: Banana, Banana Berry, Hanskie, Hanzilion.

Swistle said...

We do a TON of nicknames, and none of them are name-based---which, as you point out, can lead to, um, creativity. We call one kid Fry, and one kid Squirrel, and one kid Pinky. I'm not sure that...flies.

Scottish Twins said...

Gabe is Gabe or brother.

David is Dave/Davey (only to Gabe) or Davey Crocket.

Grace is Sissy or Baby Pickles or a combo of the two (Sissy Pickles).

I am Sessie to my parents.

Taryn said...

I'm so glad everything looks good. I am due July 2nd and also just found out I'm having a girl. I haven't thought of any names yet. Look forward to sharing the pregnancy journey with you.

AM said...

My nick name is Mary Mary as in quite contary. Or Peanut, which is my Dad's name for me. I was a tiny kid. Not so tiny anymore. Oh and I had an old boss give me Mary B. We a Mary A(nn) in our office so if fit. I love all my nicknames. You only give nicknames to the ones you love!

jen said...

I purposely named my kids names that DIDN'T have ready-made nicknames, haha.. I didn't want people calling them whatever name they wanted to. But they are short-ish names that aren't really uncommon or overly popular either. All 3 have husband-designated code-names that they got in utero.. we dont' really call them that though... well I call my youngest by his all the time, but I wouldn't call him that outside the house.. as much as I'd like to call him Fluffy when he's in high school.

Jen @ Rolling Through Looneyville said...

This post has me realizing how ridiculous my micknaming is :)

My mom sometimes called me Jenna and my dad called me Love Bug or Bug.

My kids have many nicknames. Alexis is Lexi to most, Lex here at home, and Lexi-Lou affectionately. Caly is sometimes Cal, often Caly-Bop, and her daddy calls her CJ. Sayer is either Say or Cebu and Zoen is Zo-Baby or Zozo.

All of them answer to weird names like Pickles, Doodlebop, Mufasa, Punky Pie, Loobie Lou.... I just let whatever weird word is in my head fly out and they answer! Our family is a liiiiiitle crazy. :)

My sister in law and my dad oth go by their middle names, which I find so odd. Why name your kid something if you're not going to use it?

mLou said...

It's fun to read all these responses! I thought I gave names to our kids that wouldn't be nick-named, but....I think people just do it naturally. Jennifer I call Jenna, or mostly just J now that she's "old"! Ryan became usually Ry or Rine.

I must have a thing for the 'er ending because I call all my grandbabes with this....Abigail-Abbers, Jackson/Jack-Jackers, Avery-Avvers(her parents call her Avertons!)

How about this for a nickname, my mother's (92yr old) name is Doryce(Doris) and I call her Ethyl!!

I have never liked being called just Mary...I have always added my middle name to it - Mary Lou. Am called Lou, Louie, ML(as you FIL calls me). When I have to fill out forms, I even add the Lou within the first name section because I don't like Mary.

I have followed your name blogs and have wondered why so many pretty you chose are then considered what the nickname will be.....I think you answered that in this blog :+)

CAQuincy said...

Nope, no nickname for me when I was a kid. I do remember being totally thrilled when I was a junior in high school and an acquaintance came up with one for my last name--I finally felt as if I belonged!

But my name doesn't nick very well. And my parents didn't do the nickname thing. My father fought with it his whole life with the name of Richard. Every part of the country he's lived in, he's been christened with a new name--unfortunately, Dick was indeed one of them. Therefore, my brother never answered to anything but Robert until he joined the service--and then he could not possibly get anyone on base to call him anything but Rob no matter WHAT he demanded. Therefore, his wife calls him Rob, and the rest of us keep wondering who she's calling. heh.

My husband is the first person to actually give me a nickname. He calls me Care Bear when he's being cute. But on a normal day I'm Carrie or Your Mother as in "Go ask Your Mother."

My daughter Mary I intended to call by first and middle name: Mary Anne. Everyone else defeated that purpose. She's Mary or Mare. And yes, Mare Bear.

You can't nickname Keith too much. So we call him Keith-er-oni, Full of Baloney. Ha. (I sometimes call him Keifer, but it annoys my husband.)

Isabelle was always intended to be an Izzy. And I seriously can't imagine her being anything else. Definitely NOT Belle. She will also answer to Izzy-the-Pooh or Izzy-Boo.

I'll worry about nicknaming this baby when my husband finally picks the REAL name. 1-3 more weeks to go, and she's still only got the middle name of Loretta! (Which, if I'd been able to talk him into using as a first name, would probably have gotten the nickname Lottie. Hmmm...maybe I'll do it anyway just to annoy DH!)