What’s In a Nickname?

22 Feb

I don’t know about the rest of you parents out there, but I was basically obsessed over Lucy’s name before she was born.  We revealed to everyone that we were expecting a girl, but we kept the name (and before we chose it, the short list of names) under lock and key, even from the grandparents.  My very clever mother-in-law even tried to trick me into revealing the name through this text message exchange:

MIL:  Don’t worry, we will be waiting on you, you don’t need to do anything for us.  It’s all about you and the baby!  What was her name again?

Me: Can’t wait for your visit!  Nice try with the name.

MIL:  Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

I bought or borrowed multiple baby name books and trolled BabyCenter.com daily for new ideas.  Ultimately, the short list included Josephine (Jo or Josie for short), as a nod to my favorite Little Women character.  (By the way, I read that book again recently.  It seems all the religious overtones were lost on me as a non-religious kid.  But I still love it.)  We also thought about the name Lucia (pronounced Loo-SEE-yuh), with Lucy as a nickname, but I was concerned that people would pronounce it “LOO-sha,” as in the Virgin Island.  Ultimately we settled on Lucy Claire, which was Hubs’ favorite and which has a meaning I love (“bright light”).  

During this process, Hubs humored my fixation on names, but he didn’t really understand why I was so preoccupied with it.  (C’mon, what else was I supposed to think about when I was eight months pregnant and trying to sleep half-sitting up on the couch in a ginormous nest of pillows?)  But In my mind, this task of naming had taken on monumental proportions.  After all, it was my first real, decisive act as a parent.  I had followed all the pregnancy food rules fairly strictly, I had taken my prenatal vitamins, I had attended my doctor visits — but what if by choosing the wrong name I charted a disastrous life course for our precious angel?

This week it occurred to me that despite all the deep thought we gave to the name Lucy, we gave little to no thought to the nicknames that we’ve ended up calling her.  When I was pregnant, we called her Bambina (not sure how that one started, but it was definitely Hubs) or just Little One.  Now, we call her Luce or Lucy Lu (which rolls off the tongue with such ease, but unfortunately calls to mind the Asian actress), and I call her Baby Bear.  (Hubs thinks this is strange and “not very feminine” — I guess I started calling her that because if I’m the mama bear then she’s the baby bear?)  

But the most frequently used nickname we have for her is “the little bean,” often shortened just to “the bean.”  (This leads to very strange statements and email exchanges such as “the bean is sleeping” and “feeding the bean.”)  She was indeed a little bean when she was born — 6 lbs. 10 oz.  Now, she’s long and lean — in the 98th percentile for height and the 18th for weight — so I was inclined to start calling her “string bean” until my mom admonished me that she could end up being self-conscious about her height/weight.  I stopped immediately:  I certainly don’t want to give my infant daughter body issues!  (But it’s so dang cute…)

Names are chosen with care, but nicknames often stick and can have an equally big impact.  Now that I have a laundry list of parenting issues to keep me up at night, this one has moved down the list.  Still, whenever I find myself trying out a new nickname, I can’t help but thinking about what Lucy will think about it in five years, ten years, fifteen years (if it lasts that long).  On the other hand, if as a teen she isn’t horrendously embarrassed by everything I do and say it will probably be a minor miracle.

Dear readers, what are your nicknames for your kids and what do your kids think of them?

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One Response to “What’s In a Nickname?”

  1. keladelaide February 22, 2013 at 9:26 pm #

    I have two boys and their nicknames are peanut and gumnut. There are others for them too depending on their behaviour, demeanor, actions, etc. I don’t think they’re too flattering but not hurtful at the same time.

    One of my friends was a string bean in high school. We called her noodle.

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