A Nickname is Born

Carmella, Nicknames

From Carmella to Sprinkles

Source: Photo by Kathleen Wachter

We spend nine months choosing the perfect name for our little ones.  Sometimes, like with my Elisabeth and Carmella, we carry the names in our hearts for years waiting for just the right person to give it to.  No kidding here.  We pray about it.  Research baby name books.  Read lists and lists of names.  Try different combinations together.  And then at last we settle on it.  Even in the delivery room, though, I end up questioning whether we've made the right choice.  When at last our little one arrives, we call him by name, and then we know we've made the right decision.  

I also know this will be the last time I will hear that name.  Still not kidding here, folks.  Well, maybe a little.  Our Pastor usually calls the baby by their given name when they receive the official church Bible.  And when we meet strangers we might introduce our baby by name.  But at home, by and large, our children are called by a wide myriad of nicknames which in no way resemble that beautiful ensemble we printed on the birth certificate.
Take Elisabeth, for instance.  I always wanted to name someone Elisabeth.  But I got outvoted until we were expecting Nathaniel, our fourth child.  We were on the way to the hospital, just 15 minutes or so before he was born, and we still didn't have a name should our bundle be a girl.  About the time we approached our exit on that very cold January night, we settled on Elisabeth Claire.  We both loved it.  He was a boy.  
Two more boys followed.  Then, after 16 years of child bearing, I finally got my Elisabeth on December 13, 2007.  My step mother and mother in law both wanted to know what we would call her.  I told them I didn't know just yet but that I thought maybe Ellie.  They both loved it, which is a miracle in itself.  That there should be anything that all three of us would agree on is unheard of.  Allen's mom had a special friend from way back named Ellie who endeared the name to her.  My mom liked it because she thought the spelling Elle was nifty.  So I thought "Ellie" it would be.  But it was not to be.  Not for this gang. 
Do you know what they call her?
Google.
Yes, like the search engine.  No, I am NOT kidding.  Not one little bit.  And she loves it.  She thinks that is really her name.  She will periodically answer to Elisabeth or Ellie.  But mostly she will introduce herself as Google.  And then I must explain to perfect strangers how she got saddled with such a name.  
Well, you see.  When she was a baby, she had a little onesie with a cupcake on the front.  And so Allen called her "Muffin."  Which was cute enough.  But it never stops there.  
Muffin quickly became his little "Muffin Moo".  
Which even quicker was shortened to his little "Moo."
Which then was dwarfed into "Moo Goo."  Please don't ask me why because I do not know.
But one day, when ordering Chinese, she became our "Moo Goo Gai Pan."
And eventually that became too long to say.  So she was known as either, "Goo"  or "Gai Pan".  
Can you imagine walking through Walmart and having your hubby ask you, "Will this fit Gai Pan?"  Yes, strangers do glance our way.  Although, we usually wonder why they are looking because such unusual names are common place for us.  We don't see why anyone would think it was even a bit bizarre.
Anyway, over time, the "Gai Pan" was dropped and Elisabeth became known primarily as "Goo."  
Until one day when Allen realized that was awful close to Google and he started to call her that.  Now she is known mostly as "Goo", which we all know is short for "Google," like the web browser.  
While I was expecting Winnie, they toyed with the idea of nicknaming her "IE9", short for Internet Explorer, of course.  How could you NOT know that?  
When Sam was little, his name went through a similar progression which ended with his nickname, "Poog" or "Poogie".  
So the other night, Allen was playing with the three little ones.  He told me that he was reading books to "Poogle", "Google" and "Woogle."  Yep.  Those are my  little darlings, the "Oogles".
It is not so bad about those three.  At least if you ask them, they have some idea what their given names are.  We learned our lesson from Emma Rose.
On her first day of kindergarten, she was five years old, I opened her work book.  On the very first page, she was supposed to write her full name.  I said, what is your name?  She said, "Emma."  Very good, I told her.  We went through the practice of carefully writing it on the lines.  Then I asked her, "Now what is your middle name?"  She looked at me with a blank stare.  
So, I tried another approach.  What is the name Pa calls you?  She got a huge smile and in her precious five year old chirpy voice said, "Dosie!"  Well, okay that was true, even if it wasn't the answer I was looking for.  
I tried yet one more approach.  "What is the other name Pa calls you?"   She smiled and shook her head knowingly and then answered with even more certainty than before.
"Pooperdopilis!"  Touche.
Probably the most ironic thing about the whole deal, is this.  When Brianna was born, people started shortening her name.  My favorite of those was Brie.  I thought it was adorable for our little bit of a girl.  But Allen, yes Allen the instigator of nicknames, insisted that she would be called only by her given name.  He was so adamant that one time we were at the doctor's office when the nurse mispronounced Brianna.  Kaitlin, just four at the time, corrected the nurse and told her, "Her name is Brianna and that is what we are supposed to call her."
Friends know this peculiar nicknaming business about us now.  As soon as we are expecting they ask, "What are the kids calling this one?"  We've been through some doosies, too.  Huey.  Bertram.  Gertrude.  Scooter.  
The other day, Emma and Elisabeth were having a chat.  Ellie wanted to know all the baby in utero names.  Emma went through the list with her.  She ended with Kaitlin's name.  "Baby."  Apparently Elisabeth was dumbfounded at the simplicity and normalcy of this and asked Emma, "Baby WHAT?"
When our babies are born, we never share names before they arrive.  As a result, our friends are always eager to ask what we've named the newest Wachter.  Just as soon as we get the name out, they ask, "But what are you calling him?"  
Carmella, was a name near and dear to my heart.  We were going to name a number of our babies after my grandmother.  But it never seemed to fit until our youngest darling arrived.  So far, we've mostly called her "Winnie".  Which, incidentally, is the first inutero name to stick around.  Typically, as soon as baby arrives the name goes out the door to make room for Poogles, Googles and Woogles.  But we have not really settled on anything official yet.  Because we love the name Winnie.  And Carmella.  And Joie.   So we go between all three.  And really have no preference as to what others call her from that trio.   
However, it might have changed this very week.  Aunt Dawn sent an outfit for baby.  Allen put it on and instantly declared that she looked like a sprinkle on top of a cupcake.  
Which she did.  
We all oohed and ahhed.  And concurred that indeed, she looked just like a colored sprinkle.  
And a new nickname was born.  

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Circle of Moms.

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Kathleen Wachter

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Comments (3)
  • Kim - commented on Nov 9, 2012

    My daughter is Bugs, real name Madison (or Madi for short). She will wiggle her nose like a bunny, but I didn't like Bunny and Bugs just came out.

  • Kristina - commented on Oct 31, 2012

    Dd is Lugsie and ds is mase. Real names Trinity and Mason.

  • Merry - commented on Sep 28, 2012

    I'd love to see a list of the children, I'm unclear as to how many kids they have! And what are each ones given names, and which nick name goes with which child? It is more then confusing! I just need a nice list to get it straight.