Fun nicknames and growing up

Fun nicknames and growing up

‘Amma, the kids at school tease me everyday.’A lone tear crept out of the corner of one eye and rolled down her cheek as she said it. There were just 10 minutes to get to the bus and I glanced at the clock. Then, I looked back at the child in my arms, seeking my support and said to myself, Forget the bus. She needs you.

Drawing her closer, I rested my chin on her shoulder and asked her to tell me more. She responded with how the kids would call her by a nickname: ‘Guy’. They did it everyday apparently and would derive fun out of watching her get angry. ‘I hate it!’ she finished with a vehement stamp of her foot, which isn’t so tiny anymore, I noted almost absentmindedly.

At first I wondered what would be the best path to take. Ask her to ignore them? But she’s a kid. Ignoring doesn’t come easily to them. Hey, it doesn’t come easy to most adults either. Then, it struck me!

Turning her around to face me, I cupped her face and said,’You know what? They’re laughing at you.’

Making a face, she responded, ‘I know that already.’

Hastening to pacify her, I said, ‘No, no, I’m not done. So, they are laughing at you. What you need to do is to laugh with them. And laugh at yourself too.’

Confused, she said, ‘I think we’ll just leave. I’m getting late for school.’

Grinning, I continued, ‘Darling, think about it. The next time, when they call you ‘Guy’, wave and say, ‘Hey, that’s right. I’m one of the guys. How did you know?’ or ‘Wow! So cool! I’m a guy! Why didn’t you tell me this before?’

Slowly, a smile spread across her face. Encouraged, I went on, ‘Do you know how many nicknames I’ve been called? It’s so funny! I used to get annoyed too until I started laughing about it. Then it became cool.’

Any time you tell a kid about funny nicknames, you’d better be ready to follow it up with some embarrassing ones. Oh and I’ve got a few. ‘Amma, tell me some of the names you were called,’ she grabbed my hand eagerly. Looking at the clock I tried to wriggle out of it, but she had a glint in her eye that I couldn’t escape.

Sighing in mock despair, I cuddled her and said, ‘Oh there was this time I was called ‘Shylock’. You won’t get that until you read Shakespeare, maybe a few years from now. Then there was ‘Shailer’ which rhymes with ‘jailor’ so I would get really angry! Oh and there was ‘Shai-Nai’ which was really silly and I’ll tell you more about it some day when you’re older. You know Amma’s friend here calls me ‘Shells’ which is kind of cute, so I like it. Plus, people call me ‘Shy’ all the time these days. And I’m not shy at all, as you know.’

By now, she had a grin so wide it was ready to split her face wide open. ‘Oh my god! Those are so funny! Mine is so simple.’

Tickling her under the chin, I said, ‘You want to know something? I call you ‘Gy’ on my blog and everyone loves it. They love what you say, how you speak, your wit and the fact that you’re so funny. So the next time someone calls you’Guy’, put on a mock expression of surprise and say, ‘Hey I didn’t know you read my mom’s blog.’ (Aside: A bit of promotion never hurt anyone, folks!)

As she picked up her backpack and slung it over her shoulders, she said, ‘Thanks Amma. I should remember to laugh at myself more.’

Watching her get on to the bus, her growing older made me come to terms with something I’ve read ever so often; this quote by Carroll Bryant, in particular stands out:

We’re on this earth for such a limited time, people. It seems futile to squander that time in debates that go nowhere, grudges that have no meaning and disagreements with people we don’t even know.

Would you mind sharing some nicknames that you’ve been called in the past? Something you wouldn’t mind sharing? I’m sure Gy would feel wonderful knowing that people everywhere can laugh at themselves too.

Humour keeps us sane, healthy and happy. 
Laugh at yourself more. It’s one of the best medicines out there.

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74 thoughts on “Fun nicknames and growing up

  1. Oh what wonderful advice to give her :). Appu, Aps, Apster (thanks to my online identity) are the only ones I remember, so I'm not so badly off ;). D though has to put up with Damu, Dami, and various intonations of the same.

  2. Aww… You are such a loving mother.
    I used to be (no, still get teased) for my squeaky voice. I was always called a bird, a grasshopper, was even told to pour grease down my throat 🙁 I used to cry on my Mamma's lap until she helped me get over it. 🙂

  3. This was a post that brought back childhood memories, when I would be called by weird names,at school as well as at home, by cousins! I did feel offended initially, but then found it rather entertaining. Even now, I would rather my friends call me by nicknames than my actual name!
    In school, I had a friend who called me Chhilka! At home, my cousin would call me Shilpatli or Shipla. .anything but Shilpa. Now I get called Shilps or Shilp. ..and I simply love it! So, my dear dear Gy, the cute and adorable daughter of Shy, I think you should just enjoyyyy! Laugh with them and they will love you for being such a sport!

  4. Some nicknames are really rude. Like this boy called Kaushik is called cow shit regularly. Mine were just Rach or Rachu both quite fine. Yes, it is normal to be teased with nicknames. And the best method is to laugh along with them. That is what I tell my children too. It may need a little getting used to but it helps in the long run.

  5. Tuli, Tulikz, Tullu and the one that really got to me, like Guy got to Gy – Talli (as in 'drunk'). Ugh! But I did exactly what you told her to – laugh at it. And now when I hear someone use them I feel the warmth of childhood friendship, an informality that I find really sweet. Tell Gy these are the people who might just turn into the best of friends if she gives them a chance and learns to laugh at herself. Teasers do make for super fun friends.

  6. I live in Singapore, and most non-Indians can't really pronounce my name. I've been called Die, Di, Damy, Dam-Yankees, Dat-mantee, Dee.

    Nowadays I just introduce myself and tell everyone they can call me Dee. Better a nickname of my own choosing!

    Excellent advice to your daughter. Give her a hug and kiss from Aunty Dee!

  7. Born to parents with Iranian noses, I was a shocking revelation. It looked like a train has passed over my nose. Hence I was bestowed upon the rather lovable, politically incorrect and embarrassing nickname “buchai”, translating loosely to “a little Chinese doll”

    NOw what happened in its aftermath is another life long saga, Buchai got converted to Buchi, buchu, buchkin, buchak, buchnis and to many more at varying levels of embarrassment !!!

    And hence here i am!

  8. How well I can relate to this! My KG classmates used to call me “Idli”. yes for taunting the round shaped me of course.. at ATP, till I was in my PG, I was “lallu”.. Given my temperament, it was not easy to play the fool, however excellent the role of Fools and Clowns in Shakespeare may be..
    As an infant-teacher, I was called “LS”…Limited Stop..KSRTC has such buses that stop only at specific points.. I rarely allowed my students to speak amidst classes.. I learnt my lesson.
    Now, I'm mostly “Lalli”.. though I do become “balli” and “pilli” for at least some.. lizard and cat in Telugu..
    Hugs, Gy.. They call us all this because we are very me!
    Throw smiles around like a shower of confetti..
    (Lalitha Sarma)

  9. Gy, I love your nickname. It's beautiful and it sounds so much like a melody. Names are a part of our identity, true, but what we're like on the inside matters more. That's why Shakespeare (the writer your mother mentioned), asked famously, 'what's in a name?' Even if you call a rose by another name, would it ever stop being a rose or stop smelling as sweet? You have a lovely mother who has given you the best advice for these growing years. Always learn to take things lightly and you'll find that the world is such a bright place to be!

  10. Great and loving post, Shailaja !!!! Mine are Omapodi ( a South Indian snack – Since I was so thin at my young age …. 🙁 ), soda putti ( Thanks to my thick glasses …. 😛 ), Vasu, Vasanthu, VV, Kundamma( Sometimes now by ny son Mithu ….. <3 ) ...... and much more ..... 😛

  11. Big big high-fives to you, Shailaja! I understand how Gy feels 🙂 I was built very small in school and used to be called “Chotu” by my Mom, which naturally kinda stuck – my classmates would stand next to me with their elbows resting on my head. Then they called me “chaar kan” (4 eyes) cuz of my thick specs; My best friend called me Dya. Because you see, Vidya is such a long word. Then …thru my 20s, I was called Bunny. Because the imbeciles at the RTO spelt my name Subrabanian – but I chose to think it was after the PlayBoy Bunny, cuz I had a great figure you know (heheheheh). A neighbor's kid called me Chia. Met him when I was 24 and he was 8 months old. He's now 28. And finally, the online world often refers to me as Vidzy or Vidz, because you know how hard it is to say Vidya. Vidur calls me Mi.

    Give that Gy a big hug and tell her – people bestow nicknames because they LOVE YOU!

  12. You know why I love reading your posts Shailaja? It's because there is so much of warmth and simplicity attached to it. The way you take things and explain it all to your kid and then to all of us is simply wonderful.

    My friends call me Geets, Geet, Getika, Fetika (coz I'm gaining weight), Geetonomics and the list continues..

    Gy is simply a sweetheart:) Lots of love to her 🙂


  13. Okay so I will revel this only for Gy. My nick name is “Chini”. Yes like sugar in hindi. And I am still called that at home. I remember as a kid watching coooking shows was never fun, until I started pre empting the jokes and laugh with them.

  14. You handled it so well S! My elder one's first nick name was chinti. I don't use it often now, he hates being called that as he was teased a lot. But we still call him Ari. He gets teased about that too. I guess no name is spared. We call our younger one Minti and I know I will have to change it soon enough 😛

    And as for my nick names,I guess I will need a whole post dedicated to it. As you know I am Sfu,foo,frooti,furrti,sfurat,surat and I don't know what all.I remember crying about my name when I was little but gradually fell in love with it and with all the nick names that came with it 🙂

  15. In school, it was Dosa. That was a play on my name, Rosha(n). I thought that once I got to college and had new friends, I could hide away from being called the world's fattest 'Paper Dosa' so I looked forward to college.

    So I land in college and it turns out there are 3 Roshans in my batch – 2 boys and a girl!! So the students decide to call us by our surnames to avoid confusion. Thus the other two get normal names like Shyam and Ashraf. Whereas me? I get called Radha!

    It's 16 years since I first became Radha and even today, my batchmates and their parents/wives/husbands/children know me as Radha.

    I miss being the fattest Dosa in the world! Hmmph!

  16. How beautifully you explained it all to her! 🙂

    I have been called Soms for most of my life and I hate it to the core. Some used to call me Somshekar because my voice sounds like a male one. And if only I had a penny for every time someone pronounced my name wrong believe me I'll be so rich that I'll be looking down upon people like you 😛

    Special mention to Sidelicious and Dosha/Radha above here 😛 😛

  17. What a lovely advise for Gy and such a beautiful heart warming post!

    Now tell Gy – you have a friend Parul. She has been called Parle, Paro (there was a stupid item number once) and now Payroll at work. US partners call her PRool (try P in Hindi and then add Rule in English to it).
    Parul also has a nickname at home – Roli and that was transformed to Rollar, Rollum, Rolly, Rollar Coaster and also Ro – li.. (like have you wept?)

    Fun thing is I never took offence to any of these names. I don't know how I never felt bad but imagine me sitting in a meeting – people entering and calling out – Hi Payroll! I smile and reply back 🙂

  18. Awww, such a loving post. You handled it so well, Shailaja. You're such a great mom! Gy is one of the guys. Love it!

    I used to be teased mercilessly for my maiden name which was quite the mouthful. Thorneycroft. I'd get called Thorn Bush, Thorney cobbler. The worst insult was when the computer in grade 9 even got in on the act and left the first T off my name. You can imagine my teacher had a fun time laughing at that at my expense.

    I think hubs got off easily with Graham for a name (other than being called Graham Cracker) so that's why I took his name rather than go on though I do think Thorneycroft is kinda cool now. When I was a kid it was embarrassing and I had to spell it out for everyone. Living in Quebec was hard as the French people couldn't even pronounce it. Torncroff is what they would usually say.

    What a fun post about nicknames. I'm enjoying reading everyone else's memories about nicknames.

  19. Gee, just thought of more memories about my name of Cathy. My whole family called me Cath which I didn't care for that much, especially when my mother would yell it in her loud piercing voice.

    Now I have nicknamed myself Cat since I have such an affinity towards felines and hubs has nicknamed me Cateyes because I have green eyes like a cat.

  20. Its fun to read everyones nicknames here. So much creativity. So, let me also confess. My childhood friends used to call me Lats in different accents and ways as in Luts or Laaaats which I was ok with. Then my office friends started calling me Lota which then converted to Lots and LoteY with an accent on the E. They still do. Even when we are talking seriously, they call me Lots and its very funny hearing it now. But initially, I had disliked the whole Lota thing.

  21. Wonderful take on handling name calling… I will have to learn to be calm and thoufghtful like you….

    My neighbor's grandmother used to call me ” vayasaanavi” when I was a kid. It means old lady in Tamil. Imagine my reaction as a child. I find it witty now 🙂

  22. This is wonderful advice! I wish my mom had told me this (laughing at myself is something I learned after I got older).

    I've had some reeee–alllly embarrasing nicknames – I used to walk fast (some people considered it “unladylike”) and they used to call me Coimbatore Express; the first two companies I worked at, they used to call me chutki because I was grossly underweight and younger than everyone else. Also, bhukkad, cos despite aforementioned things, I ate more than everyone else too! Then, everywhere I went (worked/studied/lived), I was called various synonyms of crazy. Eventually I got myself a Tshirt that said “I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy it” 😛 😀
    I actually like my nicknames when I think about them now – it meant people were close enough to assign “special names” to address me with.

  23. Adivasi ever since I did a project on tribals. It didn't matter to anyone that it was selected at Zonal level. Then T-Rex, Rakshasi, Qutub Minar (since I was tallest in my class), Tekka (which meant the Toddy Shop), and so many others. Some of them really rude. Most of their anger was because I was a teacher's offspring. Once they knew me well, we were good friends. Tell Gy that she is bestest and everyone envies her. She should be proud of it. Good going, Shailaja! 🙂

  24. I completely agree with that advice! When some of my clients are teased {as opposed to bullied badly}, I encourage them to laugh at it. For instance, if they are laughed and called ugly, to comeback with 'Yeah, well, the mirror cracked this morning when I look at it' or being called fat 'I better not sit on you — the last person I sat on got squashed'. I used to get called 'Moti' by a couple of guys when I was 11…I remember laughing with them and agreeing and they soon stopped calling me that.

    By the way, at school I had a friend with the same name as Gy and we used to call her 'Guy' but not in a teasing way — it was her nickname

  25. Wow! You knew exactly what to tell your daughter! Here's a hug for Gy, I love your nickname!

    In my case, I was called piggy and it took me quite a while to get over it. Most of them got bored with it when they saw that I was perfectly okay with the name. Now only my very close friends call me that and I find it pretty sweet :).

  26. That's a lovely way to turn things around for her. I think we could all take a lesson from this. It can be so hard to know what to say when children have issues like this, but it has made me think, thank you.
    Thanks for sharing with #LetKidsBeKids

  27. Very nicely explained to your girl, Shailaja 🙂 Since my name was quite small, I was just Asha most of the time.. once I was called Osho for some reason..but that's it.

  28. You handled it so beautifully! Had a similar episode with my son sometime back.Had a tough time tackling him on that.I did the same.Told him about the nicknames I have been called.
    Loved your post!

  29. Wow…of all the nicknames I’ve heard of…Guy is the cutest!
    I was in Mech, the only girl in a class of 75 boys, imagine what all I had to endure. Mech ki rani, Didi, Don, Shivaji Maharaj, boy….those were mean, weren’t they? Whenever I tried stopping someone, it escalated. So I gave up. In fact I also started answering to them. Friends sometimes tease you, and it is harmless a lot of times. Have fun and go with the flow Gy. Your mom is right as ever! ☺

      1. Haha…thanks Shailaja…or Shy?
        Such simple yet valuable advice is very important. My Mom had done the same thing with me. In fact, she joined the gang and pulled my leg too.

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