Tuesday, 23 September 2008

What's that, darling?

Single parent dad, in his latest post, has set me thinking. How do families acquire those strange, highly personal terms of endearment for their loved ones? There must be a story to explain them, but can anyone remember it? I vividly remember trying to put a cardigan on Sally when she was no older than Charlie (eight months or so) and maybe even younger; she was sitting on my knee and crying in that not-too-distressed-but-feeling-sorry-for-myself manner babies sometimes have, and I comforted her as I tried to feed her flailing arms through uncooperative sleeves by saying something like, 'ah little dolly, don't get upset'. It came from nowhere, and it stuck. And she's been Dolly, or it's variants (including Dolly Daydream - which needs no further explanation - ever since). Similarly, Charlie seems to have acquired 'Pinkle' (which looks daft written down) or 'Pinkle Winkle' (yes, I know) out of nowhere. That's when Sally isn't referring to him as 'Fish'. And I'm not calling her, on his behalf, his 'blister'. I suppose they're both most frequently referred to, though, as 'darling'. In fact, it becomes such a habit that I caught myself several times last year referring to my pupils from time to time as 'darling' which - at an all-boys school - can be embarrassing (and more for them than me)! Maybe as a family we're more tuned in to nicknames than some. We make up names for many of our friends and neighbours (nothing I could risk repeating here) and even have daft names for various places that we're in the habit of visiting. It could be worse, though: I remember Jake Thackray talking (and singing) hilariously about inventing an entire repertoire of family songs - little ditties about relatives and friends all innocent enough, but which you wouldn't necessarily want performed before the person concerned. All of which made keeping a straight face next to impossible when they next 'phoned or appeared at the front door and someone gently started humming their refrain from somewhere in the background!


  1. Nobody in our house is known by their given name. The boys often get called Boutros, Bumble Chunks or Spoon Face and the girls get called Mrs Woman. One of the children, I won’t indicate which one to save later embarrassment, is often called Captain Bum Fingers as they’re often found scratching in that region.

    The list of names is sizable and extends to the pets. Poor old Henry the dog, got called Hennoss Bennoss. The other dog is called Bruno, and he gets called Bruno Moono.

    I remember once muttering under my breath after my mother in law had said something, but the kids heard it. Unfortunately it stuck. She wasn’t best pleased to be called Homer.

    Darling is bandied about in our house too. Even the boys get called Darling and Sweetheart. I intend to call them that when they’re grown men. Ha.

    I chuckled hard when I read you called your students Darling.

    Love this post. Very funny!

  2. Thanks, Dave. The students weren't amused, needless to say. It was only slightly less embarrassing for them than those times when they raise their hands and call out 'dad....oh, I mean - sir?'

  3. Other Half and I both refer to each other as Willis... as in "What you talkin about Willis" from Different Stokes I think?! this really confuses Small Child so she differentiates by saying Mummy Willis and Daddy Willis. We no longer try and explain when out in public!

  4. Ohhhhh, that brought back a memory I'd thought I'd successfully eliminated from my brain: when I was 9 I once called my (male) teacher "mum". He was too weird to see the funny side, but at least he didn't call me by a pet name from then on!

  5. Hah! Cute nicknames. We use 'teegy weegy woo woo' (and then dodge out of the way) for N3S, 'the boy' or 'our baby' for N2S, N1,2 &3S are all called darling, sweetie and lovely. Its no wonder the two older ones play rugby, I think we've damaged them!

  6. I have been and still am Mummy darling, marmee and silly woman. Himself calls me Pollyanna and Grumpalina depending on where we are in the cycle.

    For children I have pusscat, tootsy mcfluff, and small boy (even though he's bigger than me!)

  7. Yee god Dave you do make me laugh out loud. "Captain Bum Fingers". Absolutely hilarious.
    That Girl too. I didn't think anyone else went around saying 'what you talkin about Willis'
    Oh how I laughed when I read these comments.

    In our house the children are bizarrely called Pudding or Pud. No idea why or where it came from.
    Hubby calls me wench. It stuck from when we were at school together, although I would like to point out that I absolutely was not.

  8. I can safely say, I've never called my pupils 'darling', but they have called me 'mum' from time to time!

    I didn't think I had a nickname for daughter until someone asked her what mummy calls her and she said, 'sweetcheeks'. Could be worse, 'oh child of mine' comes out quite a lot!

  9. I call both our boys "darling" but my brother was always known as "boy" and my father now calls ours "boy". We've had loads of nicknames for various neighbours over the years eg. The Laughing Postmen, Porridge, Lord & Lady.
    Love your blog, keep up the good work!

  10. Thanks, AM; will do. Are you sure, WM? It seemed to trip off my tongue easily enough!
    Pudding reminds me, Tara, of what my grandfather used as a term of endearment for everybody - honey. Must be a favourite food theme,
    I assume pussycat is in homage to Tom Jones, Gwen?
    That reminds me of a Johnny Cash song, DJ - A Boy Named Sue. Sam principle.
    And your pet name is (was) Gadjo?
    Mummy and daddy Willis reminds me of the way some families distinguish grandparents, TG. Thankfully, we have at least four different names for each of ours!

  11. Glad it's not just me who's completely barking then. I call my two girls Chucklebunny and Chuckyegg. Not in front of their friends though...well, not so far anyway!

  12. I'm Letty (from my gran when I was younger, yes thats years ago!)and my son calls hubby Pugsly?

  13. My family does not seem to go in for nicknames but sometimes my mother used to call me by my brother's name and him by mine.

    Right, what I really came to say was that there is an Arte Y Pico award waiting for you at my place.

  14. No, no, my pet names were too horrible to recall. I've "reinvented myself" since then, though whether successfully or not is not for me to say.

  15. Seems you have the ultimate sanction there at your disposal NSM - if you don't behave, I'll refer to you as chuckyegg in front of all your friends!
    Letty seems pleasantly familiar, Josie - but you're going to have to explain Pugsly to me!
    You're too kind, Cheshire Wife - thanks. I hope the name confusion did no lasting damage.
    Go on Gadj - you no you want to!

  16. Gosh made me realise that all the nick names have fallen away...past girlfriend was known as Pamster (aka Pam), but she used to complain because she had ever so slightly buck teeth...

    Then we has Freddiepotamous from when he was round as a baby, or Fredbear...or was it Fredbare?

    now it's generally 'oy'....

  17. Yes we have many nicknames in my family, and i cant reemember where most of them came from. I will do some digging!

  18. Many many nicknames in our household. I am known to David as darling, JoJo, sweetheart, honey bunny (sickening, no?) or my lovely. David is either honey or, erm, David!

    Mac, on the other hand, answers to Muffin, Chocolate Cupcake, Diddums, Sweetchecks, Curly Boy, Mr Moanalot, Freckle (he has none so not entirely sure why), Dodster, Tired Bubba, Gorgeousness, the Poo Monster (self explanatory), Squiddly.....shall I go on?!

  19. We managed to ditch our children's nicknames at an early stage, mindful of the awful example of my sister, whom I still call Winkie, a name she was given by our parents 60 years ago.

    I reminded my daughter, the other day, of a schoolfriend's sister, whose name was Martha (pronounced Marta). Her school nickname, also used by her siblings, was MarthaFarterChipolata.

  20. When he was about 3-yo, our eldest son couldn't pronounce his new brothers' name, introducing him to everyone as "Basil-teen"... upon the perplexed looks we'd get, we'd happily explain it was "Sebastian"! rofl.

    My youngest still calls me "Dee-dee" as a term of endearment (at the age of 9) - and not only when he wants to get his way! it's verrrrry kute!!!

    Mal :)


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