Thursday, 10 May 2012

Diminutive?

Photo credit - dimitri_c
This post might sound like I'm talking in riddles because I want to discuss Monkey and Missy Woo's names. Which are not, let me tell you, really Monkey and Missy Woo; apparently someone reading my blog the other week really thought they were their real names. Hey ho.

We chose fairly traditional names for them when they were born. Once we had chosen Monkey's name, we couldn't really chose something terribly exotic for Missy Woo, even though she has an exotic middle name. I just didn't think it would sound right saying something like "Yes, this is Robert and this is Pixie." (Note - also, not their real names!).

I always imagined that I would shorten their names once they were born. After all, I am not really a Kate (shock, horror). I was born a Katherine but always known as Katy by my family until I decided I was going to be Kate around the age of 11. In contrast, my younger sister has never been known by anything other than her full name, apart from when she had a kind of nickname I used when I couldn't say it as a toddler.

Since the children arrived, I have never used diminutives for their names. If I don't use their full names, it's their nicknames.... which are actually Monkey and Missy Woo. More to the point, I don't like the thought of using shortened versions of their names. This is particularly true of Missy Woo. Her name is a bit of a mouthful but her name is the feminine version of a male name and the short version just makes her sound like a boy. Which she most definitely not - she's very girly. It just doesn't sound right. I thought I wouldn't mind about others shortening her name, but if I hear someone using it, it's the verbal equivalent of running fingernails down blackboards to. I wince. I don't say anything as I don't like to correct people, partly because although we gave Missy Woo that name, it's now hers to do with it what she likes. I don't have to like it necessarily.

A couple of years ago, her eldest cousin (who is in his 30s now) told me that he called her by the short version and she told him in no uncertain terms what her name was. Things have changed since then - she's started school and it doesn't help that the only other girl in the school with the same name as her uses the shortened version, which kind of sets an expectation that she will be the same.

I thought about suggesting other alternatives to her when she wants to write the shortened version of her name, but would that just confuse her? Probably not - she told me a little while ago that she'd like to be called Rosie (not even close), for reasons I have yet to work out. Going on the basis that the grass is always greener, I laughed it off. I seem to remember I told my Dad once that I wanted to be called by a different name. Now that I'm a parent, and knowing that it was he that specifically chose my name, I understand how that can feel like a metaphorical slap in the face from the child whose name you took so much care over choosing, and agonising over how to define them.

For now, I think I'll just carry on in my own way. I don't know why, but the names we chose for them just feel right so I shall go on using them in full. I shall continue to wince, but bite my tongue, if someone uses diminutives for them in my presence. And in time, they will come to know how they want their name to define them and choose how they want to be addressed by those around them.

And that's when I'll turn into the mother that uses their Sunday names.

Do you shorten your children's names? Do you mind it when others do or are you protective of using the correct names for them? Or have you never used your child's full name and used a diminutive instead? Or did you choose a name for your child, and then regret it? Do leave a comment and let me know. 
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