Me, I’m A Nickname Gal. Meet My Victims.

by Becky on October 19, 2012 · 10 comments

in Fun, Parenting, Traditions

Children 1, 2, 3, and 4. All mine. All victims of the nickname gene I inherited from my mother.


Some moms avoid nicknames, either on principle or because they just don’t have the nickname chip. Me, I must have gotten an extra chip when they were handing them around, because I am an inveterate nickname giver. Always have been. When my oldest (now nineteen) was little, he answered to Clavey, Claveman, Choochi, and Mr. B. (for Mr. Baby), among other things. Both of my girls responded (indeed, still respond) to Dollie, Sweets, My Sweet, and Beauty. And my youngest: he’s Goose, a reference to the goose eggs he wore around on his forehead as a result of trying (and often failing) to keep up with his older brother when he was a toddler.

Those who find nicknames either silly or infantilizing miss the point. And, just to clarify, I’m not talking about nicknames that denigrate the child. However, coming (as they so often do) from a place of affection inside the giver, nicknames signal happy moments. After all, mothers seldom invoke them when they’re frustrated; they do it when they’re at ease with their child and themselves. My own mother called me Peanut. Or Pumpkin. Or Beckola. She’s been gone these fourteen years now, and I still feel a ripple of joy when I remember her voice saying “Dearie,” another one of her endearments for me.

True, sometimes I’ve had to be called out for using a nickname at a completely inappropriate time. Mr. Goose (yes, I’m beyond rehabilitation) had to have a chat with me one afternoon, after I’d thoughtlessly called him Goose in front of the after-school crowd, which was getting up a game of soccer on the lawn out in front of the second grade classrooms. Yikes! You’d have thought I was standing there shellacked in Viva Glam and blowing him big kisses, he was that mortified. So we had the talk–later, when it was quiet, of course. He’s always been one to stage his child-parent confrontations carefully. And he calmly pleaded with me not . . . to use . . . “Goose” anywhere near the playground. I agreed that he was not being unreasonable, and so we came to an understanding.

So, yeah. Time and place. Certainly. Very important.


Tell me, then. What nicknames do your kids answer to? I might just have to award a tube of Viva Glam lipstick to the mom whose nickname cache is the most inspired.

(Photos: The Eleven O’Clock Kids dead-panning it in Budapest, Hungary.)

The Farmers Wife October 20, 2012 at 8:36 pm

We are big fans of the “nickname” too! Loved the post!

Summer October 28, 2012 at 3:52 pm

I just found your blog, and it’s so lovely. I don’t have teens yet…kind of. My husband and I work with high schoolers in the after school drama club on an American Navy base in Japan. But about nicknames, I have two little girls, Eleanor and Clara. Eleanor is Ellie usually, but also answers to Ellie Belly, Jelly Bean, El, Sweetheart, Sweetie, Cinderellie, and Ellie Belle (the last two inspired by her penchant for dressing up).
Clara is Clair-Bear, Clariee (like Steel Magnolias), Babycakes, Clarabelle, and Drama Queen (because she is). Her sister frequently calls her “My Baby.”

Becky October 30, 2012 at 3:45 am

Summer! Yes, you are most definitely a fellow (or should I say “sister”?) nicknamer of the first order! Love the given names, love the nicknames. Lucky girls to have such an imaginative mom. Besitos to you!

Melissa November 17, 2012 at 8:04 am

Hi Becky,
Love reading your posts. Spain is inspiring you, I see! Do you remember my mom and dad calling me “Pixie”? And my lovely Kristina has always answered to “Preshy”, short for Precious. Love you!

Becky November 17, 2012 at 8:50 am

Hey beautiful girl! I made a reference to your buttermilk cookies in a post about Christmas! We make those ALL THE TIME! You would love the acoustics in these cavernous stone churches. I’m sure I could persuade Millay to sing Ubi caritas for you . . .
Big, happy hugs! XO

Dave January 15, 2013 at 7:42 pm

Wellll, let’s see:
Teagan-Teagers, Teagey, Teagaboo, T
Colby-Colbinator, Colby Jones (his middle name is Rex), chuck, wildman
Kinley-Kinners, Kinley Sue (her middle name is Rose)
Ember- Bems, Bember, Emby
I think yours are pretty swell. Sometimes I wish mine had more creative ones, but I don’t think it works to force it. I like that my father-in-law and all of his siblings all go by a different name that their dad came up with, some examples: Butch, Slim/ Big Bear, Tom & Jerry etc. I think it just adds some intimacy/camaraderie to a family.

Dlynne July 4, 2013 at 1:18 am

Hi Becky!
I loved your mention of your mom…. she had such a lyrical laugh… and in thinking back- I have no memories of her w/o that signature smile that could light the room… she was such an inspiration to me. She took such real care and time with me as I struggled to find my way in life….

okay, now to the post content.. I am known as the queen of nicknames in these parts! My son Jake has put up with being called Jakey, Jakey bake, precious, pie, bud, buddy, bubba; his bf for 19 yrs-Andres=Pookie
My daughter Haley aka punky, punky-head, munchie, munchie-face, punkin-head; her bff JoAnne, hes been Lolli or Lolli-Jo for years. Bff#2-Gabrielle=Cookie. First Bf-Alejandro=MO; bf#2 Zac=Gus; .. many more!

There are stories to them all!

Becky July 4, 2013 at 3:23 pm

How lovely to hear from you! And any mention of my mother just puts a huge smile in my heart. She meant so much to so many people, didn’t she? By the way, I LOVE all the endearments you use for your kids. Funny, how they just sort of pop into your mind and then roll of your tongue! Big besitos! XX

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