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The Name Game

Fat Mum Slim /

When our second child was born, it felt really sacred in that room. I think because we weren’t as shocked as we were the first time around, and it was a much more positive experience, it felt really special. We took a few hours as a family and just spent it together. She wasn’t named for a few hours, because we were just getting to know her and figure out who she was. Or more so, whether she was a Luella or a Marley.

In the end, Luella won.

I loved both names, but really loved the name Luella. I still think it’s beautiful, and every time I tell someone her name they always react with something like, “That’s a beautiful name!” or “Wow! I’ve never heard that before, it’s gorgeous!”

Early in that first year we started calling her Lulu. It wasn’t something we did with intention, it just happened. We call her Lulu 97.3% of the time.

Over the past few months, since starting preschool really, Lulu has decided that she doesn’t like her real name very much, or at all. If I call her Luella, she’ll have a huge tantrum and yell, “THAT’S NOT MY NAME!!!” Sometimes I do it on purpose just to get a rise out of her, cos I’m a mean mum like that.

She really doesn’t like her name. At all. Doesn’t identify with it. Doesn’t want it. It breaks my heart a little.

Have your kids ever disliked their name? Or did you dislike yours?

*I remember my mum told me at 8 years of age that people could change their names, and I was so keen to change mine to Rainbow.

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  • Cyndi Furr

    Only my grandmother (and the government) gets away with calling me Cynthia. I’ve been tempted to legally change it to Cyndi multiple times.

  • Angela Skerman

    My daughter is Catherine but we have called her Cate from birth, (really because we didn’t want her name shortened to Cathy). Now she hate the name Catherine!

  • Pauline

    I absolutely hated my name when I was about 6-9 years old. I wanted to change names so badly and I even signed my drawings with a different name. However, as I grew older (probably from age 14 and up) I started to love my name. Pauline is a very unusual name in my country and I went from wanting to be a “Maria” or an “Anna” like everyone else to appreciate my unique name.

  • I grew up always being one of many Karens – it was one of THE names of my generation, and to this day that irritates me. Especially since Mum already had a name picked for me – Selina, which would have been truly unique (and happened to be my great grandmother’s name, although Mum didn’t know that as she went by her middle name) – until she read Leon Uris’ ‘Exodus’ late in her pregnancy…and changed her mind and named me after the heroine of the book. When I later read it, I did think she could at least have spelled it the same as the Karin in the book, with the European spelling…but no.
    My youngest loved his name as a littlie – Lewis – but is currently being Alex…he’s 26 now. It’s part of a rather larger emotional crisis, so who knows what will happen name-wise in the long term.

    • I hope things are ok with your little one {or not so little one}.

      I love Selina. Very fancy!

      • He’s not so little now – 26 (OMG…the big one is 32…ARGH!). Last I heard – because he’s cut me off at present – he’s back studying, which I do hope is the case. He broke all contact with me when I made it clear that I wasn’t OK with his substance choices… I just have to hope that he can get himself sorted out and clean.

  • Lily Savage

    My three year old told me she hated her name (Indie) and insisted everyone call her Pudding Sparkles Monkey. It lasted a little over a month and she then decided she was happy to be Indie again.
    I despised my name growing up and felt I was living in the shadow of someone else as I was named after someone else. So when I was 18 I decided to change my name to Liliana, or Lily. No regrets and most people don’t even know that isn’t my given name.

    • Lin B

      I LOVE Pudding Sparkles Monkey!!! I’m totally stealing that if we have another child (a daughter obviously….you wouldn’t call a boy Pudding Sparkles Monkey, would you! 😉

      Seriously, I love how creative and imaginative kids can be…she sounds fun! 🙂

      • Pudding Sparkles Monkey? BRILLIANT.

        I want to know what your given name was. I love Liliana and Lily!

  • michelle barrington

    My daughter Aurelia who gets called Raya most of the time when through a phase of disliking her name because she can’t find it on personalised keyrings, cups, etc etc.

    • I know her pain, but I think she has one of the most beautiful names ever. Have always thought that.

  • Lisa Martinez

    I always wanted to change my name to Elisabeth. I just thought is sounded fancier than Lisa. LOL. I think it’s totally normal to go through a phase where you dislike your name.

  • Reannon

    I despised my name as a kid. Not only could people not pronounce it ( because NOBODY was called Reannon when I was a kid! And do you know how much I’d sit watching Romper Room & Mr Squiggl wishing they’d say my name but never ever hearing it?! I was a heartbroken kid I tell ya!) but my mum thought she was doing me a favour by spelling it phonetically instead of the traditional way ( Rhiannon ). I didn’t care how often my mum would say I was named after a beautiful & famous song, I hated it. To this day, I still have to spell my name each & every time & then I’ll hear ” wow, I’ve never heard it spelt like that!” I think it wasn’t until I hit my teens & read up on the mythology of my name that I started to think it was pretty cool. These days I love my name so fingers crossed your girl will be the same 🙂

    • I get over people spelling my name wrong. If they ask on the phone, I think, “Does it really matter? Spell it how you want!”

  • I HATED my real name, for years, in fact until my mid 20s. I refused to answer to it, wouldn’t write it at school, I thought it was awful. My nickname is Pip and I go by that 99% of the time, to the point that when I was in the newspaper with my real name I had close friends that thought there had been an error. I have since embraced my real name (Philippa) and use it in my professional life, though people always spelling it wrong makes me crazy! Hopefully Lulu will grow to appreciate her beautiful name, otherwise she can change it when she’s an adult (I almost changed mine after I got married, I was filling the forms in anyway- but I’m glad I didn’t!)

    • Yes, when I was sending you mail I thought you were so a Pip that it felt funny to write your real name. It’s so you!

  • Kylee Brodrick

    My daughter is Imogen but from a tiny baby was called Gigi as I really didn’t want her to be known as Immy. Until she hit school she was Gigi then she insisted she hated it and is now Imogen. She will answer to Immy as well but very few people call her that.

  • Luella

    Hi Chantelle!
    My name is Luella as well – when I was little I wanted to have a “normal’ name. But I love my name now. It is unusual, and unique! I get called Lu as well, as a nickname.
    The origins of the name are Old English Faerie/ Elfish – meaning Famous Elf
    Perhaps you can explore this with her – kids (and big kids) love fairies and elves

  • Carly

    I hated my name as a kid. Still don’t like it very much. It never felt like it fit. When I met my husband, he gave me a random nickname and now I’m Mummy, so I don’t hear it very often. In fact, I yell at my husband when he calls me Carly! There’s nothing wrong with the name at all – it just doesn’t feel right for me. No idea what I’d call myself if I did change it either!

    • Yeah, I’d have to think long and hard about what to change it to now. I think Chantelle works, well better than Rainbow anyway!

  • toushka

    I desperately wanted a normal name when I was little. I wanted to be called Lisa, but I grew into my name eventually.

  • I hated being “just Beth” as a kid and desperately wanted to be Elizabeth to the point where Mum offered to pay to change it by deed poll for my 18th. I could never find my name on anything like keyrings and magnets until I went to the States where it is far more popular. I ended up having to change my name by deed poll anyway when I married my husband and our overseas marriage certificate wasn’t enough proof of ID to take his name! I briefly toyed with the idea of putting Elizabeth and getting two for one but ended up not doing it – it felt too far removed from who I was. Now I like not having a common name although I am always asked if it’s short for Elizabeth or Bethany and I get called Ruth on average once a week which is super annoying because it’s my sister’s name and she thinks it’s HILARIOUS. We gave our daughter a name which was not that common at the time and I haven’t seen hers on anything yet but I have a feeling it’s growing in popularity . . .

  • Andrea Hogan

    My daughter is the opposite! She’s an Asher, and has always been called Ash. Recently she’s decided she hates Ash, and must only be called AshA! Apparently we did her a disservice by spelling her name with an “er” instead of an “a” at the end. I have tried to explain to her that we namer her Asher as it means happy, and changing it would break our hearts as this is the meaning we wanted her to carry with her for life… but it falls on deaf 6 year old ears 😀 I figure she’ll get over it soon enough!

  • My 3 year old daughter’s real name is Suzanne, a very special name for a number of reasons, but before she even left the hospital, she had become Suzie, and she doesn’t recognise Suzanne as her name (I call her Suzanne when she is in trouble). My name is Danielle but everyone has always called me Dani, so…

  • Domenica

    Luella is beautiful – she is probably just used to Lulu (also gorgeous!). I wouldn’t worry about it because at the end of the day she can go with either (or Ella if she wanted to) when she is older. Gosh, I can’t say I can imagine you as a Rainbow. I hated my name when I was a kid, but now it doesn’t bother me. Part of my heritage x

    • I’ve never thought about Ella being an option. That’s cool!

      Yeah, I’m not a Rainbow! 😛

  • Jenni from Styling Curvy

    I was born Jennifer…hate it!

  • My son is technically Charles but has only ever been called Charlie. He HATES Charles and gets really mad if someone calls him that or if he gets a name tag with Charles on it. I am hoping that as he grows up he will understand why we picked Charles (it is a family name with a long history) and will simply be happy to kindly remind people to call him Charlie.

  • Sim R-J

    I have a Luella and we call her Lulu too… or Lue. She’s three and a half and like you guys we called her Lulu for the majority of the time. When we called her Luella, she’d respond “That’s not my name! My name is Lulu!” We then went on a campaign to mix things up. I spoke with the educators at daycare and said we’re still happy for them to call her Lulu (which is what they called her 99.9% of the time) but please throw in a Luella or even a Lue every now and then. It took a while, but she now knows her name is Luella… and luckily for us, she likes it! x

    • Isn’t it the most beautiful name? What did you give her for a middle name?

      • Sim R-J

        Yep, I love it. We get so many compliments from strangers when they hear her name. Her middle name is Billee – which is my mum’s first name. I’m a fan of family names for middle names. What is your Luella’s middle name?

        • It’s Blue, because her grandfather’s first name was Blue and he sadly passed away before she was born. 🙁

  • Sara Stephenson

    I remember when I was primary school age thinking how would I ever be called Aunty Sara, as my aunties were Lyn, Robyn & Karen. So I wanted to change my name to Michelle. I thought that would be a better Aunty name!
    I don’t particularly like the name Michelle now. And funnily enough, what my ‘Aunty name’ is, isn’t very high on my list of importance as an adult (in fact, I’d never thought of it again until now).
    My neices & nephews call me Aunty Sez anyway, not that I’d care one bit if they called me Aunty Sara.
    As for my children’s names…my eldest, Isabelle/Izzy, doesn’t dislike her name, but wishes I’d gone with my other option of Charlotte/Charlie. So we’ve been through stages of only being allowed to call her Charlie, just for fun (her fun, not ours).
    The youngest, Eloise/Ellie, is only 4 and hasn’t really cared about her name yet, but my other option for her was Matilda/Tilly. So far, I’m glad I chose what I did. About to have #3 baby and am dreading if it’s a boy, because we’ve narrowed down to two names and I don’t love or dislike one more than the other. Urgh!
    The name game…such a big responsibility!

    • I didn’t know you are pregnant! Congrats! I love baby-naming. I can’t wait to hear what you call him/her!

      • Sara Stephenson

        Thanks! I can’t wait to know what I name him/her either ??

  • Sue

    My son is Finn, short for Finley. We wanted him to be Finn anyway and debated whether to just give him the short version when he was born. Anyway, around 8-10 he hated Finley. We told him he could save up and change it by deed poll if he liked. (He didn’t) He’s 17 now, and doesn’t care. He gets Finny, Finn, Finnegan, the lot.
    I was Susie to my family when I was young, Sus to my friends at high school and college, Susan to colleagues in my early career life and Sue since I turned 35. As you can imagine I get called all of the above depending on where/when people know me from. Truth told, I wish I’d stuck with Susie – I think it would be fun to be called that now I’m in my forties!

  • Laura

    My daughter is Brigid officially but from day 1 we have called her Bridie (it’s a family tradition from her paternal great grandmother). She flicks between the two depending on her mood. Some days when I call her Bridie she will say ‘no I’m Brigid’ or vice versa. More often than not at the moment though we call her George just to really confuse everyone! (George came about because when she was little she named all of her dolls and pet goldfish George) I’m sure she will chop and change over the years. My suggestion is to just roll with it and call her Lulu for the time being ?

  • Leanne B

    Funny, but probably not unheard of at kinder age! My eldest daughter (also called Luella) is now 14yrs, but in 4 yr Kinder decided she didn’t like her name and changed it to Gallop (yep, like a horse!) her Kinder teacher was gorgeous and went along with it, and so did we coz it was pretty cute. She signed her kinder artwork Gallop and we had to call her by her new name, most of the time. She even found a book at the bookstore called Gallop, we bought the book as she was slightly obsessed with her name change. It passed with in the year. But it’s pretty funny now when we pull out the Gallop book. She is fine with her name now, we call her Lu most of the time. xx

    • I know that Gallop book, it’s the one with the moving pictures, right? I love that she wanted such a random name for herself and that you jumped on the Luella super early! It’s starting to get popular now and it makes me wanna cry!

  • Jaime

    I really did not like my first name Jaime for yeaars as a kid I wanted to be called my middle name Belinda now I adore my name. We all go through phases.

  • Rachel Moncrieff

    My son is Logan but decided he likes Logie Bear better and sometime will only answer to Logie Bear and if you ask him his name he says Logie Bear

  • wrinkleranch1

    I hated my name as a kid and still do as an adult. I’m not sure why my parents ever gave me the name Jane. It is so plain and ordinary. I have three sisters and they have very exotic names and then there I was plain Jane.

    • Kylie Shea

      I’m in the same boat – Kylie. Boring. Everyone else in the family got unusual name or even middle names. I wanted to change mine as soon as I was old enough but never had the guts. Wish I had done it at 18 like I wanted to.

      • Awww, girls… you’re making me sad. I reckon you only live once so change it.

        My mum’s name is Patricia and everyone called her Pat… so she decided at about 40 to change it to Trish. She just introduces herself to new people as Trish. I know it’s still similar, but maybe you could start doing it.

  • MoMa

    To Rainbow. AAWWWW <3
    I gave my daughter the name SHARLEEN, which is not really common here in Germany. I thought its my creation of the french Charlene.
    First day home after birth I have watched MTV and in the closing titles of some concert it says SHARLEEN. I was WTF?! Googled her. She is a big drummer. Ok wow, not my own creation but still love it.
    Sharleen love her name, too.
    All her friends call her SHARLY.

    • That’s cute. I love a rare name. It’s nice to feel like you’re the only one, or one of not many!

  • Kaye Sayer-Mayers

    I have two daughters Amber and Cleo, I don’t think Cleo was that keen when she was little because she never met any other Cleos but now she is practically an adult she loves her name!

  • My son doesn’t like the shortened version of his name, but it is an inevitability that people will always call him that (they mean well). I think he thinks it sounds too grown up (he’s 5 bless him). I can see him feeling more into it when he is in his teens. For a while he would only be called his full name – first and last. Maybe Lulu will be OK and this is just a phase! I didn’t always love my name because of its spelling but now I love it because it’s a tiny bit different. I was also not sure about being called Kez or Kezza as a nickname when my year 2 art teacher started it. But it stuck and now most of my friends do not call me anything else! I take it as a real sign of our strength of friendship.

  • My little brother was named John Benjamin, which was rapidly shortened to JB. When he was in trouble, because, you know, that’s when middle names come out, my mom would yell “JB John Benjamin” because he didn’t recognize John as his first name. He was SO incredibly mad that it was hilarious when my mom tried to explain to him that he did not actually have two middle names. But, because middle schoolers are assholes, he started going by John when we moved and changed schools, and outside of family exclusively goes by John to the point that his girlfriend couldn’t figure out who we were talking about when we referred to him as JB. So, there’s still hope that Luella will grow into her name and embrace it!

    • That must have been confusing for him, and now for his girlfriend. I love the nickname JB.

      I hope Lulu comes to like it. She has a Louella in her class, so I’m wondering if it’s a bit of an identity thing for her… she might think Louella is Luella and she’s Lulu.

  • Growing up all my friends and family called me Mandy, and those who knew me before age 16 still do. I hated Samantha (my mum only called me that when she was cross) but I did start to fall in love with the name Sam when I was 16, so that’s what I came to be known as! It’s a bit confusing when a Mandy and a Sam person are in the same room because they don’t know what to call me!

    • I bet that’s difficult. So, Mandy was just a made up name for you?

      • I had a nanny and she called me Mandy and it just stuck for all those years. The weird thing is it totally freaks me out when a Mandy person tries and calls me Sam and a Sam person tries to call me Mandy – it feels so wrong 🙂

  • Penny Mortimer

    My name is Penelope which I really didn’t like when I was younger, but it didn’t really matter as no one really called me it. My older brother, by 18 months, couldn’t say it so it quickly got switched to Penny. Instead of Hello Penelope he’d say ‘ello Peepee’!!
    New teachers etc. would call me Penelope and I’d always quickly correct them to Penny, all embarrassed in class.
    But now I really like it, I don’t really use it that much but all my friends like to find good alternatives for it like ‘Penelopeeeeeee’ or ‘Pennylope’ not to mention ‘Penelope Pitstop’, ‘Lady Penelope’ and ‘Penelope Cruz or Keith’…:-) And the options for Penny seem to be endless as well!
    I like using Penelope for official things and you don’t get many Penelope’s which I like, although it seems to be getting popular now, I know a few babies with the name now. You never find it on a pen, keyring or mug though!
    The funny thing is my mum is called Jenny so as her generation of friends are getting older they always get muddled and call us the wrong name and always ask why she named me something so close to her name? She just says Penelope and Jennifer are nothing alike, we probably should both use are proper names!!

@Fatmumslim