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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.