Thursday, April 10, 2008


There are people out there--quite a few it seems--who have an aversion to naming children with the expectation of also giving them a nickname.

"Why give a child a name that you don't expect to call him?"

To which I can only reply, "Who said I can only call my child one name?"

Surely if cats, as T. S. Eliot observed, need three names, children need at least as many:

  • A full, dignified name that sounds good after "Senator" or "Doctor." Should also serve well when needed for discipline. (Something I've discovered: if you commonly call the child by a nickname derived from his middle name, it will be hard to do this.)
  • A short, handy nickname for everyday use throughout childhood, one that will not be hideously embarrassing when used by childhood acquaintances in later life. (Multiple options in this category are a bonus.)
  • A totally random, cutesy, utterly hideously embarrassing nickname that has no connection to anything, to be whispered to small infants and dropped before the infant grows old enough to object.

Of course, with a blogging mother, the child also needs a suitable online nickname, though we have taken the easy route out with that.

Maybe my fondness for nicknamable names stems from having an utterly nickname-proof name. In which case, no doubt my children will want nickname-proof names for their children. I did have an embarrassing infantile nickname, which I will not reveal.


Ben, Kyri & Rachelle said...

I completely agree. Everyone should have a name they can have on a diploma and one they use with friends and families. My husband can tell how well people know him by what name they use. Ben knows his full name already; lately I've used it A LOT. nicknames for me. I don't like the options.-rlr

the Joneses said...

I have a practically nickname-proof name, so of course I always wanted one I could adjust to fit my mood. Maybe what people object to is complete strangers using an unauthorized nickname: "This is James." "Hi, Jamie!" I've had that happen only once, when an older man called Stuart "Stuie." Excuse me? (Stuart thinks it's funny, and calls himself "Stuie Patooie," which I correct to be "Stuart Patooart.")

-- SJ