Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Another Step Away from Childhood

When my younger son was born, I, for reasons which I still don’t fathom, gave him a nickname.

I called him “Squirt.”

It’s not a nickname anyone else uses. He does have a long name can be shortened. My wife and I use the long name. Many of his teachers and coaches call him by the shortened version.

But often, to his face, I say “Squirt.” The term carries a lot of connotations. It means “little one,” but it can also mean “shrimp” or “half-pint,” terms sometimes used to demean a person’s size. Still, he was a little guy and for the longest time he didn’t mind. While tucking him in one evening, I called him by his name.

His response?

“Dad, I’m Squirt.”

Well, my little guy is 9+ now and the day I knew would come has come. He’s asked me to stop using the moniker.

I should have expected it. I was named after my father, who was named after his. For many years, I was called “Little Walter.” (Yes, I understand there’s a difference between a name only one person uses and a name everyone uses.) While I didn’t mind “Little Walter when I was young, I grew to despise it. My feelings about this were the reason I chose not to name either of my sons after me.

At some point, I demanded to be called “Walt.” It took awhile to make the change. People continued to call me Little Walter for years, even after I surpassed my father’s height. There was only one person I didn’t ask to call me Walt. That was my Grandmother. My grandfather went by “Walt.” There was only one “Walt” in my grandmother’s life. I thought that was how it should be. If she wanted to call me Walt, she could.

Last Sunday evening, I tucked my son in as I usually do. And, I called him by name.

He smiled back at me. “Dad, you can call me Squirt. Just don’t do it in public.”

Thankfully, he prefers the Cartoon Network website to my blogsite on the computer.

Goodnight, Squirt.

So, what nicknames did you have for your kids and when did they start requesting a change?


Ann said...

Let me begin by saying I thoroughly enjoyed your comments. I don't have children but I do have two nephews that I adore. When my sister was expecting the first one I decided that boy or girl, I would call the child "MonkeyDunk". A funny name I know but there was a gentleman in my church whom I was extremely close too and he called me that from the day I was born until he passed away. And so when Josh came along he too was called MonkeyDunk and later shortened to "Monkey". As he got older & began playing baseball and became a big brother "Monkey", just didn't suit him. I was told I could call him "Monkey" in private but on the baseball field he wanted to be called "Bubba" as his little brother had started calling him. I guess "Bubba" does have a stonger sound to it than "Monkey". When the younger nephew came along I dubbed him "Peanut". He's only 7, but I'm guessing that one day he may decide that "Peanut" doesn't sound too good around his friends. I'll respect their wishes but to me they will always be "Monkey" and "Peanut".

Walt Mussell said...

Ann, thank you for dropping by. I hope you'll do so again. I like the name "Monkeydunk."

Anne Payne said...

We refer to our oldest daughter as "Miss Scarlett" as in Scarlett O'Hara because she is SUCH a drama queen and has the back-of-the-hand to the forehead bit down pat! She's 28 now. She'll never outgrow that one :) She's not able to blog, but my three others would die if I told their nicknames.

Walt Mussell said...

We call my younger son a drama queen, too. We end up applauding his theatrics sometimes.

Thanks for stopping by.