Yesterday at the playground, while kicking the ball around with C, he shouted, ‘Good Save Mum!’ I may have inadvertently blocked a goal, which would have been more luck than skill, but I was not startled by my football skills or even my own son’s praise. It was the ‘Mum’ thing that caught my attention.
For 8 years I have referred to myself as Mom, Mommy or even Mama, yet I am under no illusion about the inevitable. I know my efforts are futile and that nature will undoubtedly prevail over nurture and I will be known, called and referred to as Mummy. But ‘Mum’ ???
Sure, I know, it’s not a big deal and kinda cute I suppose and it is most certainly a playground passage of rite required of younger boys becoming older boys but maybe…just maybe it is more than that. Could this be further proof of what I have always suspected?
Americans just can’t help themselves when a chance arises to create a nickname. It’s an endearing but sometimes incredibly annoying habit, and I think it might be an innate trait, an uncontrollable act. Nicknames seem to be a compulsion, and shortening names is just as addictive! Truncated names. Monosyllabic people. We can’t help it! We just love it.
And the Brits? Well, no, not so much, or at least I don’t think so. Look at Prince William – years in the making and his nickname? ‘Wills’. And Prince Harry? Supposedly his army comrades call him ‘Big H’. I bet you can come up with at least 5 nicknames catchier, bigger and better for each of them right now.
Growing up, most of my friends’ nicknames came from their last name. That also wouldn’t happen over here. In fact the Brits LOVE their double barrelled name. Us Yanks? No way. 4 maybe 5 syllables at the END of someone’s name? Forget it! We could never manage it. Even Obama is a struggle for most, no doubt the reason someone came up with ‘Barry O’.
On the day C was born, I called my sister and her husband answered. I shared our news and told him our chosen name for his nephew. Without any hesitation, his next question was, ’So what are the Americans going to call him?’. I repeated C’s name just in case he missed it the first time and was then asked ‘So, not ½ C?’ ‘No, DEFINITELY not ½ C.’, to which he replied, ‘Okay, here’s your sister’.
CSr and I chose the name C, primarily because of its Gaelic appeal to both the Scottish and Irish in us. It is not a very common American name but not that unusual either. I can’t think of any potential twisted variations of his name that may suddenly strike during school years, but perhaps my brother in law is working on it.
I am sure that one day C will blame me for my ½ of his genetic code, and his own inability to refrain from abbreviating names and calling people by nicknames they never chose for themselves. But today, I’ll celebrate saving that goal and being C’s Mum.
Chilled champagne flute
Sparkling cider for children