"Chrysanthemum did not think her name was absolutely perfect. She knew it!" — Chrysanthemum, by Kevin Henkes (2007, Greenwillow Books)
|background from schnitzgeli1|
the nonsense name i go to the most with both my girls is SweetPea. but depending on the occasion, there are many more. Bushel Britches. Pumpkin Britches. Cutey Pants. Poopy Drawers. (hm, i'm sensing a theme here.) Sunshine and Baby for daughter no. 2, and Big Girl and Sweet One for daughter no. 1.
yet if given names carry a momentous weight – "this is the name by which you will forever be known (probably) because we put it on your social security card, dangnabit!" – then nicknames are the less formal way of pulling rank. "your friends may call you Cady. but you'll always be Bushel Britches to us, and there's nothing you can do about it." there are echoes of parental authority here, smoothed over with goofiness. as moms and dads, we really can't help ourselves. when we look at our kid and get that feeling of "otherness" mixed with the longing to hold on, it's the act of naming we turn to. not so much to have a sense of control as to give a name to the overflowing love we feel for such a tiny human and to communicate in our clumsy way an emotion they won't understand until they are parents themselves.
or am i being too liberal arts-ish?
epilogue: came across this classroom discussion guide for Chrysanthemum. worthwhile questions for parents and children to extend the reading experience, too. anything by Kevin Henkes is worth a read, by the way. Owen is another familiar favorite of ours.