A Riff on Names

I just read Dawn's blog, from http://mom2my6pack.blogspot.com/ (which, if you don't know about her already, you absolutely should check her our and find out her story -- it's a kick!), and it inspired me to write about my own children's names. First and foremost, it is not a good sign when you triumphantly announce your minutes-old baby's name and your mother -- your own flesh and blood -- responds with: "You're kidding. What? You're kidding, right?"

Dawn is right: no matter what you intend, or what YOU would prefer people call your children, people will give your kids nicknames. We're not really into nicknames here. Or at least, we like the names we picked for the kids so we like to call them by their full names. We have lots of nicknames for them, but not that they really go by all of the time. For example, I call my daughter Lola "Lola-berry ding-dong" quite a bit...we call the boys "Chief"...we call each other "Monk-a-loo," a take off on monkey...I've called all of my babies "Bug-a-boo." But we pretty much call Elizabeth by her first name, and not Lizzie, or Beth.

It took a little convincing for me to agree to name my second child a wonderul, resonant, beautiful Italian name from my husband's family. The English version of this name is also shared by a guy who dated my college roommate -- and boy did I despise him. Don't even get me started there -- he was just plain awful. Years later, here I was contemplating naming my very own son the same name as this repugnant, pathetic excuse for a man. Well, the Italian verison anyway. My son's name is Vincenzo (pronounced VIN-CHEN-ZOE). I had visions of prepubescent boys banging on my door and slurring through half opened lips: "Can Vinnie come out and play?" I thought of this guy from college, Vince, whose very name made my cackles rise and my claws extract. But then, how can you argue with an Italian immigrant grandfather who farmed, made his own wine, pressed his own olive oil from his farm's olive trees, and whose name can be found on an Ellis Island manifest? You cain't. So I have a little Vinnie. But no one calls him that -- at least no one I listen to. Actually, his nickname has become Cenzo (CHEN-ZOE), and I call him this a lot more than I ever thought I would when I first stumbled on it when he was a baby. But I love his long wonderful name, and it's a lot of fun to say.

So we have the following names for our children:

Samuel -- picked because we liked it, and we loved what it meant: "God has heard."
Vincenzo -- Italian ancestor; see above
Lola Margaret -- both her first and middle names come from people dear to us. One of her grandmothers is named Lola, and we have two dear friends named Margaret and Lola.
Elizabeth -- because it's long and beautiful.

and the one that had my mother gasping in disbelief:
Tallulah. Like Bankhead. If you are an old movie buff. Named from a good old fashioned baby name book, because we liked the musicality of it.

My mom, apologetically, asked me if it would be alright if she found a nice nickname for her youngest granddaughter because she was having a hard time saying Tallulah. Not pronouncing it, just saying it. I assured her that (a) a nickname would be fine and (b) that she shouldn't worry too much because she had trouble with the name Vincenzo at first (and called him Vincy) but that she got used to it after awhile. So she calls my daughter Tula. Which is very cute, I must agree. I still prefer the long version...

Anyway, we get lots of compliments on the childrens' names, and I must admit, I do love them. The names I mean. The kids, too, but that's a different post.


Fern said…
Oh, I love their names. Lola and Tallulah, in particular, as they were ones I suggested for our girls.

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