Well, I’ve narrowed down my baby name list. I have four first girls names and six first boy names. Middle names are more numerous but also finite. James has not yet looked at names. He says he will look at them in May and does not want to know my list until then. I think that is mostly because of how busy he is with classes and his own dissertation and his four classes will be over in May. When he gets to it, and I insist that be before June or he relinquishes his input, he will make his list and we will sit down, discuss, compare, etc. So far we have never had a conflict when it comes to baby names. We simply pick names we both like.
Going through possible names though, I must say I absolutely hate it when people take it upon themselves to give other people nicknames, especially when they don’t or barely even know them. I have nothing against nicknames, but they should be ones that either the parents, if the child is young enough, or the individual themselves choose. For example, my name is Katherine. I’ve gone by Kathy and Kath at times, but if you call me Katie, not only will I show no response, you probably won’t get whatever you wanted from me. There is nothing wrong with the name Katie, but it isn’t mine. I likewise don’t like when people take it upon themselves to bestow nicknames on my children. Who gave them naming rights?
Another reason people bestow unwanted nicknames is that they think it marks them as a friend and makes them friendlier and closer to the individual. But I’ve seen complete strangers in stores, who we will probably never see again, do this. It should be up to the individual to decide that a person is a friend and then ask them to call him or her by a desired nickname. It should be a sign of friendship from the owner of the name, not an assertion by the would-be friend upon the individual. Think here of the honor bestowed on the person asked to move closer at the parable of the wedding banquet v. the one asked to take a lower seat.
I understand, when most people do this, they mean no offense and are trying to be friendly, but a person’s name is important and respecting that name is important.
Ask any holocaust survivor who was given just a number, just how important their name is to them. They will tell you that their name is not their number and it was by disrespecting their name that others sought to dehumanize them or deindividualize them. Certainly most people who bestow unwanted nicknames are not trying to do this, but consider the importance of a name. In older times, knowing a person’s name was to have some power over them, to know just who they are. A person’s name is not just a label or trait. No one says, “I have some John,” or “I’m a John.” A man says, “I am John.”
Neither James nor I have any objection if, when they are older, our children prefer to adopt a nickname even if we had not used it for them. It is their name. They can choose a nickname if they want. But the simple fact is, we call our children Cecilia and Felicity. Anything more than that, are terms of endearment. They currently have no nicknames.