August 11, 2008

Q&A: Nicknames

First, I'm happy to report that Operation Bottle Fairy was a complete success! Five days and counting of contented bottle-free life for Puppy. If only the Nose-Picking Fairy could stop by. Seriously, do all toddlers go through a phase in which one finger is constantly poking at their nostril?

Second, D asks, "By the way, is it too late to ask a question? It's one of those things I've always wondered, but just never asked... where did 'Puppy' get his nickname from?"

"Puppy" is a play on his actual name. When he was born, I was working on learning biblical Hebrew as part of my graduate studies. Puppy's real-life name is in the Hebrew Bible and I was amused to see that it was very similar to the word for "dog."

T and I weren't real big into the meanings of our kids' names when we picked them. We have nothing against selecting names that way, it just wasn't important to us. My parents-in-law, on the other hand, treat names as near-proclamations of one's destiny. They decided that his given names meant "faithful guardian" (his middle name is more or less "prosperity keeper" or "wealth guard"). They even made up a little thing to hand on his wall saying so. They didn't find it funny when I suggested that "dog who guards the money" was perhaps a more literal translation.

When it came time to name him online, "Puppy" immediately came to mind. It's since been pointed out to me that nicknaming an adopted child after an animal that is frequently "adopted" in the real world wasn't the most sensitive thing to do. Had I thought of that initially, I probably would have opted for another pseudonym. We don't call him Puppy anywhere but online.

Firefly's nickname is inspired by the Latin root of her real name. I'm really not the pretentious language twit this post makes me sound like, I promise.


Anonymous said...

You know, personally I think that the person(s) who called you out for being insensitive about nicknaming him Puppy are over-reacting more than a little bit. There is such a thing as being overly PC and it grates on my nerves when people have to nitpick every. single. thing. just because they can.

Btw, I call my husband "Puppy," too. It started when he was acting pitiful one time -- "poor little puppy" -- and it just stuck.

Ariella said...

I could see the person's point if you called your son "puppy" in real life but for a blog I think it is fine. I love that the nn for the blog are inspired by the meaning of thier names. But I also love how little a sense of hummor your parent's in law have! How funny that they couldn't take the joke.

Unknown said...

We are BIG into nicknames in my family. Pretty much everyone has one. My husband's nickname is so strong that pretty much everyone calls him that (I call him that exclusively). Thanks for sharing how your blog nicknames came into being! And the "puppy" thing - it had never even crossed my mind. Even if you called him that in real life, clearly you are an amazing, respectful mom, and a nickname doesn't change that.

Shawn and Lisa said...

I don't think calling an adopted child "Puppy" as a nickname is bad. Would it be wrong to call an adopted daughter named Catherine, Kitty? Or should adopted children never be named Oliver (because it might remind some of Dicken's famous orphan)? Or Annie for a girl? The focus isn't on the fact that the child is adopted (like a puppy would be), it's a play on his actual name. I also don’t see anything wrong with it just being a cute nickname describing the rambunctious and sweet behavior of a young boy!

Sometimes people go overboard. I don’t think these names are “off limits” for adopted kids. And if we start acting like they are all we’re doing is pointing out to our children that they are very different from bio kids. And I don't think that's a good message to send.

Minnie said...

I'm just catching up after being out of touch for nearly two weeks.

I don't know if I'm more excited about camp cake, or telling my sister-in-law about the bottle fairy. (She's been struggling with my Niece's insane attachment to a bottle at bedtime.)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for explaining the story behind the nicknames. As a fellow language geek, I particularly enjoy it. I'm doing pseudonyms via Nymbler's tool for finding similar names for people who aren't my partner or me, but it's not the most elegant solution. I've already thought about what I'll do with still-hypothetical kids and I'm glad to hear what others have tried.

Jenni said...

My boys are Wolf and Bear...I enjoy seeing the animal side in them...and I actually DO call them that in real life.
I wouldn't let it get to you. I know people who use names like Toots, Clam, or Scud (yes, like the missile) so I think you're actually quite safe with Puppy and Firefly. :)
I love hearing where names come from--particularly where nicknames come from.
Love your blog.

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