Wito started first grade today. Well, he started his true first day of 1st grade in July, but with our impending move, we changed school districts, and now he’s starting his SECOND first day of 1st grade today at the new school. Crikey. As you can imagine, mama didn’t get much sleep last night. That’s the great thing about moms, though – we worry enough so our kids don’t have to.

I don’t think I’ve written about it before, but Wito has never been called his given name. We bestowed a completely random nickname to him while pregnant (not Wito, thank goodness), and although we never expected it, the nickname just stuck. Soon after his birth, we started receiving items monogrammed with the nickname, and we quickly realized it would be around for awhile, even though the nickname itself is not a derivative of Anders nor has any similarities. Fast forward 6 years, and the child has never been called his given name by family members, friends, or teachers. In fact, I don’t think he was aware of his given name until last year.

I have to be honest. I’m not sure how I feel about this. I obviously named him Anders for a reason. I love that name, and it makes me a little bummed to know that it might never be used. So when we found out about the house and knew we would be attending a completely new school district, I brought up the discussion of starting new with his given name. It was the perfect time, really…I mean, he didn’t know anyone at the school and it could be the perfect fresh start, right? Wrong.

As you can imagine, it’s not that easy. My child has been known solely by his nickname his entire life. What kind of mom would I be to pluck my child out of the school with all of his friends and comforts, place him in a new school with complete strangers, AND expect him to change his name? Witness Protection Program, anyone? It’s complicated, peeps.

Wito and I have had discussions about this situation over the past month, and bottom line, he prefers to be called his nickname. I don’t blame him…it’s his identity. It’s him. He will always be able to change it as he matures down the road, as the nickname does have a childish quality, but that should be up to him.

So when his lovely teacher approached this morning to introduce herself to the boy she assumed was “Anders” from the roster, I let her know that he prefers to be called his nickname. And like I always do, I grabbed his slip and put those two increasingly familiar quotation marks next to his name.

What do you think about nicknames? Do you use one for yourself or your children? Do you have any regrets? I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter.

  1. Lisa

    September 4, 2012 at 10:45 am

    My given name is Elizabeth. There are thousands of nicknames for it. My mother chose Lisa back in the 70s and it stuck. I remember trying out the full name growing up here and there (if we moved to a new school I might be Elizabeth, only to return to Lisa after the next move). As an adult I wish I would have found the right time to change to my formal name (college maybe), but now mid-thirties it’s a little too late (to say the least). My business cards, resume, etc. don’t even refer to my given name (it would be even more confusing than a last name change mid-career), maybe if I was a Liz or Beth it would be simpler.

    Oddest complaint is my monogram doesn’t reflect my nickname (darn first letter change). So it can confuse people and then you have to do the explanation story for each new person.

    My not so secret wish is that my future granddaughter will be an Elizabeth outright.

    That said, both my girls have nicknames (two each shortened versions of their names for friends and their pet pregnancy names we use at home)

    • whoorl

      September 4, 2012 at 10:52 am

      Oh, yes. We deal with the same monogram issue as well! And like I wrote, his nickname is not even remotely similar to his given name, which totally confuses people.

  2. Nancy

    September 4, 2012 at 10:56 am

    I completely relate. My daughter’s name is Eleanor, and she has been exclusively called Roma for her 5.5 year long life. I’m not entirely sure how it happened. Roma is her middle name, and maybe it suits her more than Eleanor. We spoke with her about on her 5th birthday, and decided with her help to officially change her name. She’s just Roma now, I can’t imagine calling her Eleanor. My initial thought was to reverse the two names, and make Roma her first, Eleanor her second. But Eleanor felt done to me, so we chose a new 2nd name when we filed paperwork to have her name changed. So, I get it. I didn’t want to always have to explain her name in school, and work to be called the name she wanted. I also have a close friend who was always called by her middle name. When she married and took her husband’s last name, she officially dropped the first name she never used and listed her missile name. Confusing stuff. I love Anders, though. Hope his nickname is as cool!

    • whoorl

      September 4, 2012 at 11:12 am

      I have to admit, his nickname suits him. ;) Love the name Roma!

  3. Mary Craig

    September 4, 2012 at 11:02 am

    My son was named after my husband, so he’s Leighton Andrew Jr. Just around the house we called him “Buddy” as so many people call their little boys (at least in the south!) When he started preschool at age 3 I explained he would be “Leighton” at school and we’d call him Leighton and Buddy both at home. He FREAKED. Said “NO! Me BUDDY. Not WAY-TON!” So Buddy he is. To everyone. And it suits him. :) But yes, the monogram LAH is confusing- especially as we went to order his new Lands End back pack for First Grade. We settled on a single B.

    • whoorl

      September 4, 2012 at 11:16 am

      This made me chuckle because we JUST went through the exact same backpack debacle – we went with his true ASD monogram for the backpack, and a single ‘D’ for his nickname on his lunchbox. I mean, we are all sorts of confused over here. ;)

  4. Iowamom

    September 4, 2012 at 11:03 am

    He’ll change it if he wants to as he gets older. Our kids don’t have nicknames and we named them certain names that literally can’t be shortened. That bugs me. My oldest is in 7th grade and a lot of his friends are going from Jeffrey to Jeff, Nicky to Nick, and Johnny to John. You get the idea. The kids themselves have initiated the change and remind people of their more grown up name. My sister’s name is Margaret. Many people wanted to call her Maggie, Peggy, Margie and she would NOT have it. She’s been Margaret since birth. :) He’ll figure it out!

  5. The Tutugirl

    September 4, 2012 at 11:07 am

    When I was really little, I accidentally nicknamed my brother “little boy” in a foreign language. He’s now out of college, and anyone who knew him when he was little (including his girlfriend) still refers to him by that nickname. That being said, he decided on his own to start going by his nickname when he changed schools for middle school, and that’s what the majority of the world calls him, so I think there’s still hope for Anders. He just needs to make the choice himself.

  6. Tori

    September 4, 2012 at 11:14 am

    My given name is Marie Victoria. I have never ever been called Marie (except when my parents were mad…). My parents have always called me Tori, which is short for my middle name. I will confess that it has been a point of frustration in my life & I even considered legally changing my name to Victoria Marie because I just don’t identify as Marie. Marie means absolutely nothing to me. I have to remind myself at doctors offices that they’ll be calling Marie, not Tori or Victoria (which I barely respond to, anyway).

    It was irritating in school & I slightly dreaded that uncomfortable first day of class where my name would be called & I’d have to say “please call me tori”. Sometimes they’d leave it at that (which was a relief), sometimes they’d ask how is it I go by tori (which led to me explaining my middle name nickname), and sometimes the teacher thought I was messing with them. Once the first few days were per with it was fine, but I can’t deny that it’s been a pain in my butt.

    My grandpa & uncle only went by their first names professionally as adults, so I had some example in my life so I didn’t feel weird. But professionally I go by Tori. It’s just “me”, like it is for your Wito.

    In summary: it’s slightly annoying, but I identify by my name and the annoyance is worth it.

  7. Mae (Life's Candy)

    September 4, 2012 at 11:16 am

    “What kind of mom would I be to pluck my child out of the school with all of his friends and comforts, place him in a new school with complete strangers, AND expect him to change his name?”

    My mom did the first two-thirds of this. I finished it out.

    While I was on vacation with my father less than a year after my parents divorced, my mother packed up our things and moved us 200 miles away. I got off the airplane, she picked me up and told me we had moved. At 5 am the next morning she left me (alone, in our new apartment) to attend a 2 week training course across the country. I started high school 5 days later and when they read my first name in role call that morning, I changed it, completely spur of the moment. I replied that I “went by” my middle name instead, a name I had previously paid zero attention to. It was the only thing I could control and of course, I knew my mom wouldn’t like it and that by the time she figured out it had happened there would be nothing she could do.

    All that is to say, yeah. Good decision I think. Let him keep “his” name. It’s big stuff.

  8. Likethewrap

    September 4, 2012 at 11:18 am

    So my husband’s name is John but he thought that his birth name was Johnny. All of his family called him Johnny so it must be, right. When we registered for our wedding license we used Johnny but when we went to get our passports his birth certificate said John. I was so surprised that he didn’t know what his real name was. When we were pregnant and picking out names I wanted something that could not be shortened. We selected Levi which met all of the requirements of not being shortened or could be made fun of and was connected to family. When we started daycare they started calling him Levers. I do not endorse this at all but have adopted the “what will be, will be.” As his personality develops I wouldn’t be surprised if he wanted to be called dinosaur or dog in the near future.

  9. Lyndsay

    September 4, 2012 at 11:18 am

    Not only does our child not go by his first name, he goes by a derivative of his middle name. I am all too familiar with the quotation marks. I fear they will be a part of his life always. Subsequently, I feel any future children should have the same punishment – a derivative of their middle name. If we’re gonna suffer, we’re gonna suffer together!

  10. Angella

    September 4, 2012 at 11:21 am

    My kids don’t go by nicknames, but your comment about him changing it later if he wants to made me think of Matthew’s brother.

    His brother was named for the purpose of calling him by initials. When I met him, he was known to everyone as ‘B.J.’ As you can imagine, as he got older, he wasn’t too keen on the name. He’s now known to the world as Brandon. ;)

  11. DeeDee V.

    September 4, 2012 at 11:36 am

    This is my situation almost exactly. I was never ever called by my given name growing up (unless I was in trouble) and now no one calls me Deanna. Ever. It’s actually a way I can know if I “know” you. If you call me DeeDee, we’re buds.

  12. Stephanie

    September 4, 2012 at 11:37 am

    I have a daughter named Claire. When she was starting a new school there was another girl with the same first name and the same surname initial. I encouraged her to come up with her own nickname so she wouldn’t forever be Claire with the Brown hair, or Short Claire. Now, the other Claire is gone, and she still goes by her nickname — Cece. The only downside is our last name starts with the same sound — Sea — so it sounds really funny when you say them together. And makes me feel like a parent who didn’t think things out when I named her.

  13. Mallory

    September 4, 2012 at 11:47 am

    My baby sister ended up with her family nickname (Morgan –> Mo) which we always thought she’d want to outgrow. Nope, instead she is now an adult and most people she deals with professionally don’t realize her actual first name until they see her email signature or something. Whether my other sister and I (the two who started calling her that within days of her birth) were especially prescient, or whether she just grew into that name…who knows. It fits her, and though she had lots of opportunities to change, she never wanted to. (my parents, on the other hand, who gave us kids all names that they thought *wouldn’t* get shortened to nicknames weren’t so keen for a long time!)

    My daughter’s name is Iris Emanuelle, but I really wanted to name her Iris Mae. We live in the South, and it just rolls off my tongue. But her father is Greek, we needed a middle name that the Greek Church would recognize when we baptized her, and yadayada we opted for Emanuelle instead, which I really like too, it just is quite a mouthful. But until Kindergarten when they did a section on names, I don’t know that Iris realized her middle name *wasn’t* Mae. It’s what I call her, more often than not, the whole thing — Iris Mae. Our friends have all heard the story, and now Iris knows it well too, but I think she’ll always be Iris Mae to me, and in some ways I like that I have a “special” name for her.

  14. Trysha

    September 4, 2012 at 11:51 am

    My two best friends (sisters) go by their middle names, always have. They feel that their first names are formal (Susan and Laura) and not “them” (Ashley and Emma).

    My kids don’t go by nicknames but I’ve always been called a shortened version of my name. I just don’t feel like a Patricia, the shortened Trysha just suits me better.

    My husband always went by a shortened version of his name. I can tell childhood friends or people who have known him for years because they call him Tino. Newer friends/acquaintances/co-workers all call him Augustine.

  15. Molly

    September 4, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    My name is Mary, but I’ve been called Molly since birth. Molly is traditionally a nickname for Mary, but it’s been used independently for so long that people rarely make the connection.

    Not a big deal in childhood but has been a pain professionally. I definitely recommend that Wito make it legal at 18 if it’s still the nickname. Maybe “Nickname Anders MiddleName LastName.” I wish that I’d done this before I had received any degrees.