It has always rather amazed me how much effort we put into choosing names for our children and yet how infrequently we actually use them. And I’m sure our parents put a lot of thought into our names, yet most of us have a shortened version or a nickname that was given to us by those same parents pretty quickly afterward.
I’ve often wondered why this is. Why do we give children names that we don’t intend to use? And also, what is the point of the middle name which almost never sees the light of day?
When I was a kid, I used to love writing out all of my names. I remember being in third grade and practicing cursive writing, providing huge swirls and flourishes as I elegantly scripted “Kathleen Katie Rebekkah Bubby Carpenter The Second.” My given name was simply Kathleen Rebekkah Carpenter (I was named after my grandmother), but everyone called me Katie, except for my father who dubbed me “Bubby.” My mother’s given name was Robin Lee Carpenter (nee Birch), and having been brought up Catholic, she also had a baptismal saint’s name and a confirmational saint’s name. I would run around saying it over and over again: Robin Lee Adelaide Burnadette Birch Carpenter! It was so amazing!
I loved names. I still do.
For years now, I have adopted the moniker Vyktoriah, and at one point while I lived in the UK, I actually changed it legally so that I could have it all mine. I’ve loved the name for years. When I was in first grade, there was a girl in my class called Louise Victoria, and I just thought it was the most beautiful name ever. When I went through my own Catholic confirmation ceremony at 17, I chose St Victoria as my patron and so took her name, changing the spelling to suit my whimsy.
To many people that I met in England in the last ten years, I am simply Tori (I have never liked the name Vicky, even though I have several friends and family members with that name!).
I remember how carefully we chose Dexter’s name. Until about 7 months pregnant, he was always going to be David Douglas. The David came from Mark’s father, and the Douglas from mine. (Of course, my father’s REAL name is Leonard, but he’s gone by his middle name all his life.) But due to some family drama at the time, we decided to change it up and make David Douglas a middle name and choose a new first name. Hence the Dexter.
And wouldn’t you know it? We hardly ever even call him by his name! It’s either DOODLEBUG or WUBBA or MONKEYBUTT. Even when we go to use his name, we often shorten it to Dex.
My dad even has a special nickname for each of his children. There is Dutch, Bean, Baffy, Bubby and Booger. And he never gets it wrong! He does the same for his grandkids, of course, giving them their own little names.
Mark is the only person I know who doesn’t really have anything he can do with his name. I suppose I could call him Marky, but it doesn’t sit well with me. Still, I hardly ever use his name, preferring the endearments of Baby or Babe.
Names are funny old things.
Do you go by a nickname? Or do you use them on others a lot? Do you use the name you’ve given your child or do you have terms of endearment you prefer?