My relationship with my in-laws has not always been smooth. In fact, my first experience with my future father in law was extremely uncomfortable. A group of my friends were planning to go to the movies, and my friend, Jon, gave me his number to call to give him the details later. As a painfully shy and awkward teenager, just dialing the number gave me anxiety. New friendships were hard, and a new friendship with a boy (!) was even harder. I dialed the number given to me, and his father answered. I timidly asked for Jon, and he harshly said, “No one here is named Jon,” and hung up on me. I would have left it at that, however, my mom wouldn’t let me.
Back in those days, calls were made from the kitchen phone with everyone listening. My mom made me call again, and try asking for him by his full name, Jonathan. I begged her not to make me since I was already dying of embarrassment. However, she asked me how I would feel if I got left out by my friends in the same situation? She reminded me that he couldn’t control his dad or how his dad behaved and that I should be empathetic towards my friend. So I called back. I asked for Jonathan. I got through to my friend and he joined us at the movies. I will never forget how ridiculous I thought the entire thing was!
Fast forward fifteen years. My son is two, and his name is Joshua. Sure, I call him Joshy and Joshy-bug, and Little Man, and Cutie Pie. That’s my prerogative as his mama. The thing I do NOT call him is Josh. I know, I know. It’s a super common abbreviation to the name.
But that’s not what I named him.
It drives me absolutely mad when people call him Josh. So, yes, I understand my father in law a little bit better. No, I won’t hang up on my son’s friends if they call and ask for Josh in the future. No, I won’t make him go by Joshua when he gets older if he decides he’d rather be Josh. He can make that choice when he’s old enough, but for now, he’s a baby and still mine to call as I please. No, I’m not going to make a big deal or cause a scene when I hear it. I did write in our daycare paperwork, “Please call my son Joshua, not Josh.” I do remind our close friends and family when I hear them calling him Josh, in what I hope comes across as friendly and not alienating.
If you’re in a child’s life – pay attention to what they introduce themselves as. I noticed after that uncomfortable call that my friend (and now husband), Jon, actually always introduced himself as Jonathan. So I started calling him that. If the child is too young to introduce themselves, listen to what their mom or dad introduces them as. That’s what you should call them.
We’re not completely uptight and no-fun here. We embrace ridiculous and silly terms of endearment from our close family and friends. (My sister calls him Chicken Nugget, and we love it!) But Josh feels like a totally different name, and I’m just not about it.
How do you feel on the whole nickname issue?