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What is my name

Nicknames…Cute, Cruel Or Just Confusing?


Whats my nameI thought my husband was taking the proverbial when he said our youngest, Jemima couldn’t say her name. I mean she has no problem speaking or voicing her opinion. Ok, sometimes this may be expressed through the medium of a paddy but she has a pretty decent vocabulary for a 26 month old. She can put words into some fairly complex sentences like “Chicken and chips at MacDonald’s now please”, “Don’t want to go to bed”, “Want to go to park”.

She recognises animated characters and will greet Little Charley Bear or Mickey Mouse by name and can say the names of all our family. So I had no concerns about her speech. Well until I realised he was absolutely right, she just couldn’t say her name. When I asked her to, she went unusually shy and awkward. Now I must take responsibility for this, as I have to admit I actually don’t call her Jemima very often at all.

Jemima was a miracle baby, after years of waiting, treatment and a gorgeous IVF baby, Jemima just turned up wonderfully unexpectedly. I vowed I wouldn’t make the same mistakes I did with my first, namely seek guidance from Gina Ford or approval from The Health Visitor. This time I was going to listen to my baby and as long as she was happy and healthy, I’d just go with what she and the rest of the family wanted.

Happily Jemima was the most chilled out, little baby I could have wished for. She only cried when she absolutely had to and as long as there was plenty of milk and entertainment available, was happy just to gurgle and smile at everyone. If I had to sum up her character by song it would be “I got 99 problems but my milk ain’t one”, as long as she had enough milk, nothing else was worth crying about. She kind of had Jay Z’s style but was obviously a lot prettier, more innocent and much less sweary.

So that’s why we began to call Jemima Grace, JG. The name not only suited her but worked on all levels as Izzie, her big sister who was then only 14 months couldn’t pronounce Jemima but could easily say JG. Just for the record, Izzie who is the liveliest baby I’ve ever seen and partied the nights away for the first year of her life, was nicknamed Izzie Rascal, after Dizzee of course. Izzie continues to be consistently “Bonkers”.

Contrary to what everyone says about the second baby being more advanced, Jemima didn’t do very much at all apart from sit up, smile and be gorgeous until she was about 10 months old. Then she decided she’d crawl and cruise allbeit very slowly. She was never in hurry, always preferring to pootle about. So she earnt the nickname “Pootle”. This somehow changed into “Pootle McGrootle” and then “Officer McGrootle”. I know, I’m hanging my head in shame now, no wonder the poor child’s confused!

At just over a year old when Jemima found her feet and indeed her voice she became more opinionated and teething started to affect her calm disposition. Her first word was “Daddy” quickly followed by her favourite word “No”. After a year of going with the flow, Jemima had decided to make up for lost time and assert herself. This coincided with the launch of Skyfall, a family holiday and my Dad rather aptly and affectionately gave her the nickname “Dr No”.

With varying degrees of success, I try to finetune my toddlers social skills and managed to ease her out of the “Dr No” phase within a few months. Thankfully Jemima still likes to assert herself and hates to miss out on anything. Especially something her big sister may be doing.

I try to treat my girls equally and even do things like give biscuits simultaneously but if I have to do something that requires 2 hands at the same time like peel some fruit and I do Izzie’s first, Jemima will begin to holler “Me Too!”. She may be the second child but quite admirably she hates playing second fiddle. I’m ashamed to admit we may have occasionally addressed Jemima as “MeToo”.

I’m equally enchanted by both the confident and calm sides of Jemima’s character so none of these nicknames are meant with malice but I can now understand why they must be so confusing for her. I’m also being hypocritical, as sometimes I think name calling can be very hurtful.

At University I used to work in a bar where all the locals had nicknames. There was “Wing Nut” because of his enormous ears and “Beaky” for equally obvious reasons. Initially I thought it was a bit rude to so blatantantly point out someone’s charchteristics but they seemed to love having these alter egos. I guess because they were comfortable with who they were and surrounded by well meaning friends.

Terms of endearment can be nice, I love it when close friends and family call me Mich but found it a little insulting when a prepubescent girl at the bank called me “Shell”. It’s also an unfortunate coincidence that this week, after indulging in way too much Peppa Pig, Jemima started calling me “Mummy Pig”. I’ll be honest I don’t find this as hilarious as everyone else but I am comfortable enough in my own skin to realise I don’t bear a very close resemblance to Peppa Pig’s Mum.

Jemima Grace and MummyI must admit though, I do prefer it when Jemima just calls me Mummy because that is who I am, to her. After much encouragement and many Smarties, Jemima can now say her own name. So I intend to lead by example and continue to use her proper name so she can discover who she is. Besides if I don’t, you never know what nickname she’ll have in store for me next!

  1. Oh dear there was me thinking that Shelley & Paza were your real names! Just a little thought Amelia could not say Lewis so we called him LJ she said JJ and he is still to this day called Jay!!! His mates call him LJ family call him Lewis poor child doesn’t stand a chance! Lots of love Trace and Bri xxxxx

    1. LJ sounds kind of cool! Reminds me of LL Cool J. Lewis has turned out perfect so maybe nicknames aren’t so bad after all. Would love it if you called Paul, Pazza next time we meet, purely for entertainment purposes! Thanks so much for taking the time to read & comment, really very lovely of you. x

  2. Brilliant, I think we all do it. My kids don’t have nicknames as such, but a whole range of terms of endearment. I’d never considered it could be confusing growing up, but of course it can! I think Jemima’s nicknames are genius, though! 🙂

    1. Thank you, nice to know that even if I have neglected to call Jemima by her proper name, at least her nicknames were well thought out! Always good to hear other parents are as guilty as I am, safety in numbers & all that! Thank you so much for taking the time to read & comment.

  3. Loved your post. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one often called “Mummy Pig” by their two year old!!! I’ve also learned not to take offence.
    I’m also more regularly called Timone (The Lion King) and Daddy is Pumba while Elliott is , of course, Simba.
    But your post reminded me of my mother telling me that when I was a toddler her doctor told her off for calling me darling (or whichever similar term of endearment it was) and to use my proper name otherwise I’d never learn properly!!
    But of course we all do it. I’m forever calling Elliott “Monkey”, “Sweetheart” etc etc etc. and I’m sure mothers have been doing it since the dawn of time. But show me an adult (or even a 5 year old) who doesn’t know their own name!!

    1. You’re absolutely right, we all get there in the end! I just didn’t want to be responsible for Jemima turning 5 & not knowing her name. Timone sounds lovely, much better than Mummy Pig. Even got teased on twitter that I should change my Twitter name to Mummy_Pig! Thank you so much for taking the time to read & comment, really appreciate it.

    1. Panda’s a lovely nickname. I call my eldest “Izzie Bear” sometimes & that gets abbreviated to “Bear” so Izzie may also be confused about what species she is! Thanks so much for taking the time to read & comment on my post.

  4. Great post. I have a friend called Jacqueline, who’s older brother asked where babies come from when his sister arrived. His parents told him it was like kangaroos and their pouch (god knows why) and so he started to call her baby Joey. Still to this day 24 years later she is known as Joey by everyone she knows, most people don’t even know its a nickname!

    1. Thank you, that’s really nice to hear. I’m loving that explanation about where babies come from! I may use that one myself! It’s funny how nicknames stick isn’t it. I guess that’s why I want Jemima to know her name so she can chose what she wants to be called, eventually! Thank you so much for taking the time to read & comment.

  5. Gosh, I hadn’t even thought it could be a bad thing. My daughter who just turned 3 certainly knows her own name, but she’s had and still has a variety of nicknames since the day she was born. Not one of them is a negative, but thinking about it, it must at the very least be confusing for her!! Think I will make more of an effort to simply call her by her name for a while!

    1. Hope I haven’t worried you as I’m sure nicknames aren’t such a bad thing! As you say your daughter knows her name. It was just such a shock that Jemima could say “chicken & chips” but not her own name! Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment, very good of you. It’s always so nice to read what other people have to say especially when they have children of a similar age to mine.

  6. my parents used nicknames to the children regularly according to their personality at the time.
    as a toddler when I questioned being summoned to tea by a smooth modulated nickname by ma (mum) she would cuddle me and explained the nickname was her personal way to label her bond to her treasure (me)
    my nickname was her personal key to open my love
    since then I always give nicknames the respect they deserve……….love them
    Dr No ,Bam bam,bouncie,Tinkle bell,cheeky monkey.Peter pan,Izzie bear,………………..
    a measure of special love…………………………me too

    1. Well that’s put my mind at rest because look how perfect you’ve turned out? You know, I completely forgot the “Bam Bam” phase when writing this post! Oh well, it’ll give us something to laugh about when Jemima turns vegetarian (- I know like I did!) in her teenage years! Thanks so much for taking the time to read & comment, it means so much to me.

  7. Poor Jemima never seemed to have a chance names wise.
    Even when we called her by name it usually changed into Jemima of the Grace.
    But now shes getting the hang of it.
    Just need to get her to put the J in emima and stop her from calling Isabella ‘Peter’

    1. It is amazing how quickly jemima got a grasp of saying her name once the Smarties started flowing! I can definitely see a nicknames part 2 post coming though with the Peter Pan theme still going. Thanks for taking the time to read, comment & RT. It really means a lot to me.

  8. All my kids have nicknames too. Jamey is JB Jack is Wacko Jacko or sometimes little legs and Kevin was nicknamed kiwi by his baseball team mates. I seem to remember Jen had a nickname for you too. : ) and of course who could forget mine Jackie Pooh. I love them I think it makes kids feel special. Very amusing post.

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