I thought this was over when we moved out of the baby stages.

I’ve mentioned before that we’re pretty nickname-y as a family. Because I view nicknames– and I use them– as a form of affection, I have never really understood the notion of deliberately giving someone a name that will make it difficult to shorten. (It also seems kinda self-aggrandizing, like you have given a child a name that is so stupendous that you cannot bear to use anything but that whole majestic thing…. but whatever.) We didn’t necessarily intend for our son to go by Cam instead of his given name, Cameron. He became Cam at some point in school, and that’s fine by me– I probably call him Cammy 75% of the time anyway. We did intend for Gabrielle to be called Gabby, though; and actually, I didn’t especially care for the short form Addie when we named Addison. She just sort of became Addie J, all on her own.

I’m saying I don’t care that much, what the kids call themselves. We were in charge of giving them their names, now they can decide how they want to be known. I don’t subscribe to the school of giving a child the most amazing and unusual name you can think up, AND I don’t worry about protecting the integrity of their names or anything. This comes up because, recently, I called a child by a shortened form of their name. Let’s say it’s Jeffrey, and I called the child Jeff. His mother interjected, “His name is Jeffrey.” (This is a teenager, by the way.) I said, “Oh, okay. He doesn’t like Jeff?” And she said, in a tone that made it clear she has said this over and over again, “Well, we don’t like Jeff. If we wanted him to be called Jeff, we would have named him Jeff. We wanted him to be called Jeffrey, so we named him Jeffrey.”


It seems to me that, at some point, we as parents have to stop standing in front of our children with our arms held out. One of Gabby’s grades was mis-entered in her grade book, for example, and I have sent her to school to advocate for herself and take care of it. I could email the teacher and get all up in their business, I guess– however I would rather she learn these skills now. If she wants to be called Gabby and not Gabrielle– and she does, as a matter of fact– she can choose that for herself and she can correct people on her own.

Also: I don’t have the time to run around, enforcing my preferred names. Just not the hill I want to die on.

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