I’ve been filling out school forms and registration forms in copious amounts recently. A common question on all these official documents asks what the child’s preferred name is, as opposed to his or her given name. All this form-completing got me thinking about the names we call our boys when we aren’t calling them by their actual names.
The birth of a nickname often follows a roundabout, nonsensical path, at least it does in my family. While the evolution of a pet name isn’t always logical, to a family member it makes heaps of sense. It has a story, or at least years of shared living to inspire it’s use.
We call my sons:
H, Mr. Higgins, Hdawg;
Jacky, Jacky Jackerton, Jackmandu, Jackadoodledoo, Jackers crackers, Jack the digger;
Chachi, Chachismo; and…
Baby (you get lazy when you get to the end)
A few points of interest I noticed when mulling our list of nicknames:
1. The mostly nonverbal child has the most pet names. This is probably because he can’t tell us to be quiet and call him by his actual name. He just goes with it. And we just keep adding affectionate nicknames.
2. Our youngest may go to kindergarten someday thinking his real name is Baby. It’s all we ever call him. He responds to it better than to his real name. He points to his reflection and sweetly peeps, “Baby!”
3. The nicknames really have a way of accurately reflecting the personality of the boy. I mean seriously, Hdawg and Chachismo belong to two of the sassiest boys ever. They own those nicknames.
I don’t really have a nickname. The diminutive of my name is Meg, but people rarely call me that. I honestly wouldn’t mind if they did, because to me it sounds like the name of a quirky, strident, opinionated old woman, who has crazy bad hair and bakes decadent desserts in her messy, inviting kitchen. I could embrace Meg.
Jeff was called Jefe in high school Spanish, and it stuck for awhile. His parents still occasionally call him Jeffer, but his pet name of choice is one of his own invention, which is Dutch. The irony is that nobody has ever actually called him Dutch. He gave it to himself because he likes the way it sounds. He thinks it makes him seem….what? Rural? Crotchety? Good-natured old guy? I don’t really know, and I don’t think he cares that the only person who refers to him as Dutch is, well, him.
He tells me he will put it in quotation marks between his first and last names in his obituary. I tell him that I’m not sure an obit is the best venue for introducing one’s new nickname.
But I guess at that point, why not?