I 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.
I 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!