Nicknames are powerful words and should not be bestowed lightly. Having a nickname can bring you a lifetime of pride - as in THE GREAT ONE (Wayne Gretzky for those of you not in the know) or a lifetime of embarrassment - as in the case of someone I know who has been saddled with the nickname of BOOGER for the past 25 years or so.
I've been thinking about nicknames a lot since Abner's arrival. I'm sure you'll be relieved to note that I did not actually name my beautiful baby girl Abner. It is just one of her many nicknames. On any given day we may refer to her as: Munchie, Abbington, Abster, Abacus, Abbey Yo Yo, Baboo, etc. The Abner name stuck the most ever since an incident at a Feist concert last month (NOTE: The concert was awesome. You have to see her perform live. Preferably outdoors). Here is a transcript of the incident:
STRANGE WOMAN: "Oh! Your little boy is so cute."
MILKYBEER: In my head - Just because she's not dressed in pink doesn't mean she's a boy. Out loud - "Thanks"
STRANGE WOMAN: "How old is your son?"
MILKYBEER: In my head - Oh for Christ's sake...she's a girl!!!! Out loud - "Three months old."
STRANGE WOMAN: "What a sweetheart. Is he a good baby?"
MILKYBEER: In my head - Do I correct her and totally embarrass her at this point? Out loud - "We think so."
STRANGE WOMAN: "What's his name?"
MILKYBEER: In my head - Screw it...I'm going to have some fun. Out loud - "Abner"
STRANGE WOMAN: "Aww...Abner (said all lovey dovey). Pause. Abner?!? (said with whatever the opposite of lovey dovey is)"
MILKYBEER: "It's a family name (said while trying to keep a straight face)"
Anyhow, she walked off pretty quick after that. I was so darned amused with the name, that's it just kind of stuck since then. Which brings me back to the topic of nicknames and the power they hold.
I thought the ever-growing list of nicknames for Abner was all fun and games until I read in my handy dandy baby book (aptly named "The Baby Book") that you're supposed to call your baby by her name as often as possible so that they learn to associate it with themselves. The book claims that by four months, most babies respond consistently to their names. Needless to say, this is not the case with Abner. I think the many nicknames have confused the poor girl.
Hopefully I have not completely stunted my daughter's development at the expense of a couple of good laughs. Perhaps I should hold off on the nicknames until she's a bit older.