I’m pretty big on my kids, and I’m pretty big on their nicknames. I have no idea where this comes from, but it’s important to me. Ask anyone who’s met me with my kids. I actually don’t use their real names, especially the younger two.
When I had lunch with a friend the other day, we briefly discussed my kids. The friend asked “How are the kids doing?” and I gave a little update. This led us into an interesting discussion.
First, a little background – I have, since Amalie’s birth over 3 years ago, been calling her “The Worm”. There is a story behind it – briefly, when she was brand-spanking new and in the hospital, the nurse wrapped her tightly in a blanket and she moved around a LOT. To the point where she looked like a little pink worm, wriggling around. From that day, I called her Worm, and she further cemented her name when she started being mobile and doing the equivalent of the break-dancing “Worm” move.
Truth be told, there are plenty of times where I am talking about her, and I have to physically stop talking and try to remember her real name instead of just saying “The Worm did this or that”.
Andon hasn’t escaped this fate either. He’s over five months old now but when he was fresh, he would be quite a vocal little fellow. Our two girls would typically cry a little bit to let us know there was an issue – usually hungry, wet diaper or maybe gas. Then they’d sit back and wait for us to deal with it. That’s what we’ve become accustomed to. That was our norm. Not Andon. Nope. Not even close. Since the day he was born, he has 1) advised us there is a problem by crying, and 2) ensured the problem is dealt with as soon as possible, by ramping up the level of volume and intensity of his cry. That was new to us, because we were used to a kid that would cry for 10 seconds and then we could leisurely make our way to their room and deal with things. Not so with Andon. It’s more like a 10-grit sandpaper on your soul, and you can’t help but run to him to deal with it. I suppose he’s got us trained pretty well by now. Anyway, within a day or two, we decided he was quite a “little monkey” for treating us, his loving parents, this way. Within a day, the name “Monkey” stuck, and within a week or so, it had evolved to “Munk”.
I’m now left with the same problem as I have with Amalie, and that is, when people ask me what his name is, or if I’m talking about him, I really have to try to remember it, because the first thing that comes to mind is “Munk”. Really, the only time this varies is when I’m really proud of something he’s accomplished, such as a massive, earth-shaking fart, in which case I call him “Super Munk”.
I don’t know where this naming business comes from, honestly. I never really had nicknames growing up, and neither did my brothers. It’s just something that happened, and for my part, I love it. Do I care if people think it’s weird or silly? Not a bit. It’s my connection with my kids. And this leads me to one of my points. Somehow, when I call my kids Worm or Munk, I feel a tiny extra spark of love. It’s like a bond between them and myself. My wife doesn’t call them by those names, and somehow, when I do, I feel just little extra measure of love for them. It’s almost impossible to explain, but it’s true. I’m certain I won’t always call them these names, certainly not in front of their friends when it’s far from cool to be seen with Dad. But I know, without a doubt, that Amalie will always be my Worm, and Andon will always be my Munk.
Here’s a little observation regarding my own nicknames for my kids that I’d like to share, and my lunch partner the other day brought it to my attention. As I mentioned I’m the one who came up with these names, and I get a measure of joy and satisfaction out of using them on my kids. Not only that, it’s developed into such a habit, that I almost sprain my brain sometimes when I decide to use their real names. So what is it about this connection that makes it so intensely personal?
Intensely personal, you ask? Yes, that’s what I meant. Because it’s been pointed out to me that when others use those names towards my kids, I have a strong reaction. It’s almost like I’m taken aback by the effrontery of having my baby’s nickname used on them. By someone else. And it’s true! I’ve come across a few people, particularly with Amalie, who have soaked up the nickname and obviously liked it, and then had the nerve to use it themselves. We were out somewhere and someone, who we know quite well, had the gumption to just go ahead and call her “Worm” when they were trying to get her attention. I can’t explain it, but deep down, somewhere in the recesses of my soul, there was a black cloud gathering at that moment and a storm was cooking. I didn’t like it. I didn’t like that someone else had used my baby’s nickname and that my baby had reacted to it.
So here’s my question: am I really guarding my special bond with my kids so jealously that I take offense, even subliminally, to someone using the nickname that triggers that special bond? Am I the only one?
Do you or did you ever use nicknames with your kids? Did they stick? Or did they, or YOU, grow out of them? Did you feel as though something special was happening between you and your kid when you used the nickname with them, as I do?
I’d love to hear some of your nicknames – there are some fantastic ones out there, and without exception, they always seem to suit the kid.
As for myself, I’m looking forward to many more adventures with The Worm and The Munk – you’re just not invited to join us.
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