I had a lot of rules when picking names for my kids. I didn’t want their names to rhyme or start with the same letter, I wanted them to be easy to spell and pronounce. All names beginning with the letter J or H were ruled out, as were many names of crazy relatives. One thing I did want, however, was the possibility for nicknames. That’s one of the reasons we went with Rebecca over Sarah.
And yet… in over a year and a half, I never called her anything but her full name. We would sometimes say “Dan” for Daniel, but by and large we used their full names all the time. It felt a little silly, since I had picked these names in part because of their ability to be shortened, yet here I was saying the whole thing every time.
Enter: toddler language development. Rebecca has always said “Daniel” pretty clearly. Daniel called her “Nee nee” for a while. And then, unprompted, he started saying “Becca.” And now that they’ve started referring to themselves with their own names, she calls herself “Becca.” The funny thing is that I almost feel like that has given me permission to start calling her that, myself. Weird, huh?
I think it comes down to who you expect to bestow nicknames on kids. Growing up, I was always the full-on Elizabeth where my family was concerned. But somewhere in late-middle school, my friends started to call me Liz. Liz has stuck and it’s how almost everyone knows me… yet my mother will never, ever call me anything but Elizabeth. So, in my mind, I guess I expect peers to pick nicknames.
My aunt, on the other hand, was always a Liz because that was the nickname her mother called her. My aunt Liz named her son Christopher, and was somewhat distressed when his peers started calling him “Chris,” because she didn’t call him that. In her mind, nicknames are picked by parents.
So, what about you, dear readers? Did you pick a longer name for your kids but always knew you’d call them by the short version? Did you pick a nickname-proof name to avoid the whole thing? What is your take on nicknames and who “gets” to decide on them?