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. Heather from NC

    September 4, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    I love nicknames and I’ve never had one because Heather is not really nickname-able. Both of my children have nicknames. Elizabeth has been Lizzie since preschool. My son is Paul Robert and we have always called him Bobby since before he was born. They are teenagers now (freshman in college and sophomore in high school) and they both seem completely pleased with their nicknames. I can’t imagine either will ever change to their given names but if they do, I’ll be totally fine with it.

  2. Kasey

    September 4, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    Like Wito, I was given a nickname distinctly different from my given name at birth. And the name stuck. I thought about going with my given name at college, then after college, but never did and now its too late. I agree with Molly/Mary, that this has become a challenge professionally. I wish I’d reverted to my legal name before entering the workforce.

  3. giselle

    September 4, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    Just curious – we know his name is Anders, why keep the nickname a mystery?

    • whoorl

      September 4, 2012 at 12:27 pm

      I know, it’s seems a bit ridiculous, but it’s always been the one thing I’ve kept to myself, in regards to this space. :)

      • Hanna

        September 4, 2012 at 12:49 pm

        I love the name Anders. It means “diverse” in German- which is pretty cool. I just discovered your blog recently, actually. Has Wita’s name ever been made public? Just curious. I can completely understand wanting to keep certain things private. :)

        • whoorl

          September 4, 2012 at 1:02 pm

          Thanks! Her name is Malou Olivia. :)

  4. giselle

    September 4, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    Also, my uncle named my cousin Alexander Jorge but they always called him Jordi (nickname for Jordi in Spain). When he went to school he refused to go by anything else, so they had his name legally changed to Jordi Alexander.

  5. Diana

    September 4, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    Our kids’ nicknames tend to be nonsensical, which means by about 2nd grade they’re more than ready for us to drop them in public and by about 5th grade they’re ready to drop them at home, too. I really wish I would have thought of this for myself earlier though. I’ve never liked or felt comfortable in my own name, but now it’s probably too late to change.

  6. Catherine

    September 4, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    My given name is Mary Catherine, but I go by Catherine, and if I really like you, Cat. NOT CATHY. Ugh, that drives me nuts when people just assume I’m a Cathy. Anyway, my brother and I both go by our middle names (our first names are our parents names), and so does my husband, (who actually has 2 middle names–Cristoffer Adhamh Shane–and goes by Shane) so when I got pregnant, we KNEW we would call our kids’ by their first names. I wish I had dropped my first name when I got married and did the name change thing, but it didn’t occur to me. Our kids have pretty simple (and awesome) names, Lucas and Sarah, so they don’t go by nicknames. Side note–I’m DYING to know Wito’s nickname! I’ve been a reader of yours since you were pregnant and it’s killing me!! =)

  7. Amanda

    September 4, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    Before starting first grade everyone called me Mandy (or Mandy Claire depending on how Southern they were). When I started first grade, my mom switched my name back to Amanda. I protested and she told me Mandy was a “redneck name” which it totally isn’t, but whatever. I got over it and as a professional I’m very glad to be Amanda. I will rapidly correct anyone who tries to shorten it! Of course we we going through this now with an Alexander who insists on Alex and an Abigail who is also (though not as vehemently) Abby. It’s a hard choice but I think it works out either way. Anderson could always legally change to his nickname down the road if it was an issue.

  8. Amanda

    September 4, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    Sorry, Anders- iPhone autocorrect strikes again.

  9. Christy

    September 4, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    I’ve always known my aunt to be “Aunt Angie.” I didn’t realize until about a year or two ago, her actual name is Marie Angela. Same goes for my grandfather – everyone called him Boone, but his actual name was Ivan. We hardly ever call my daughter by her given name Katelyn, she’s really more of a Kay. Or my youngest Olivia, we just say Livi. Maybe just let Anders/Wito decide, though it might be harder in terms of paperwork if the nickname is a lot different from Anders…

  10. Hannah Alyse

    September 4, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    Love this post. I’ve always had the name drama :) So my name is Hannah Alyse. I go by them together because my middle name has meaning behind it and I love how they sound combined. But my dad calls me Roberta Anne. They have NOTHING to do with each other. When I was a kid on stage getting awards he would be screaming my nickname and everyone was so confused about who he was talking to. It was a lot to explain. My mom was talking to me the other day and she was saying she doesn’t even think my dad knows my real name LOL. When he shortens it he just calls me Anne which is even more confusing. So I have the confusion of going by two names, everyone wants to shorten it to just Hannah. And my dads nicknames which lots of people think is my real name. I’m 24 now and I love them all. I think it’s true he’ll work it all out :) It’s kinda nice sometimes not to be stuck with one name!

    • whoorl

      September 4, 2012 at 2:13 pm

      I love this comment, Hannah Alyse! I mean, Roberta Anne. Er, Anne. ;)

      I think you’re right – it’s probably nice not to be stuck with just one name.

      • Tracy D

        September 4, 2012 at 7:44 pm

        My husband’s name is James Andrew, but he goes by Andy. He has always been Andy, except for his best friend from college who learned that James is his first name when a hockey instructor called roll, so just because he knows Andy doesn’t like it, he (and his wife and everyone they played hockey with) call him Jimmy. So he’s Andy or Jimmy…neither of which are his given names. His family also sometimes calls him “AD” short for his middle and last names.

  11. Jen

    September 4, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    First off, Anders is a FABULOUS name.

    But I think with a new house and new school it might put a little one overboard if there was also a new name too.

    I think it’s good you asked him what he wanted to do, now that he is old enough to get it, you can periodically ask him if he wants anyone to start calling him Anders, and when and if he is ready, he will!

  12. Rowenna

    September 4, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    I also love the name Anders! I love Scandanavian names in general. And generally unique names, especially ones that are unique without being weird or hard to spell/pronounce.

    The nickname thing reminded me of my aunt, who I have always known as Aunt Beep. Everyone I know, in our whole family calls her Beep (my dad, her brother, nicknamed her this as a baby.) Even her own mother calls her Beep! It’s in her email address and everything. I think she goes by her given name (nothing related to Beep) at work, but completely identifies as Beep. It’s amazing how things like that happen!

    • Kristen

      September 5, 2012 at 1:17 pm

      Beep is the greatest nickname ever! I want an Aunt Beep!

  13. bishop stu tu

    September 4, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    whOOrl gOOrl,

    In my hometown, my name will always be “Runt”…being so much smaller than my big brother. Still at class reunions, I’m introduced as “Runt” and, frankly, I dig it. ‘Cause I’m proud that I did OK for a runt.

    In fact, when my secty fields a call for “Runt”, she knows to put whoever it is straight through…it’s a fold friend.

    Hell, hurdles make your legs stretch.

  14. Abby - Bright Yellow World

    September 4, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    1. I’ve been “Abby” for my whole life, short for “Abigail.” Almost no one calls me Abby. Some people call me Abs, and those really close to me call me Abigail. And I always know when my husband is legitimately angry, because he calls me Abby. Go figure.

    2. More closely related to your situation, I have a friend named Edward who has, for his entire life, been known as Tug. Now in his thirties, Tug is still his name. And he’s made a real name for himself using that name. Sometimes, nicknames are more true to who we are. And our “real” names are like our special inner selves. I think that’s pretty amazing.

  15. Heather

    September 4, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    First off, *love* the name Anders – possibly because it’s very similar to my dad’s name, which is now my son’s middle name. :) I agree with previous commenters that Wito will figure it out. I never had a nickname (but I always wanted one!), but I’ve watched my dad negotiate it. The family has always called him by his middle name. Friends and professional acquaintances use the correct pronounciation of his first name (Eastern European – not phonetic in English). It does make it easy to screen out the telemarketers, who use the incorrect, phonetic pronounciation! I do think one reason it has worked out as well for him is that both names are his legal names, definitely something to talk about with Wito as he enters the workforce.