Posted in Family, Today's File

A worm by any other name would be… a Hobbit

Our son Christian is NOT a “Chris.” He doesn’t even acknowledge “Chris” as a version of his name–doesn’t respond to it at all.  I had to explain that to his first T-ball coach (not because I’m a fussy mom who insists on a full name–in fact, I had assumed when I named him that he would be Chris–but because Coach was getting Zero Response from my son when he tried to get the attention of “Chris” on the field…)

Christian does answer to “Hobbit,” however–which I’ve called him since his crop of curly hair first grew in.  And for a period of several months when he was three, he became enamored of Oscar the Grouch’s pet worm and insisted on being called Slimey. (Which arrangement turned ME into “Slimey’s Mommy”–and required another explanation at his daycare…)

Christian, a.k.a. Slimey, a.k.a. Hobbit (2004, at age 3)

He quite consistently insisted on both the name and the “worm persona,” even holding his ground through an evening of heckling by adults when I took him to a faculty barbeque. Though my colleagues pressed him all night for his “real name,” the only variation he would give was to add our surname after “Slimey.”

When he told me (imaginative annelid that he was) that our apple tree had a mouth and eyes and talked to children, I asked if it talked to him… His response (from my 2004 journal):

“No, only to children.”  Aren’t YOU a child? “No!  Just Slimey.”  Naturally–he’s not a child; he’s a worm.  He visits with the worms we turn up while we’re planting, holds them in his palm and croons, “Slimey loves worms–so much!” And then returns them to their holes to “be happy, eat dirt.”

Rather reminiscent of Tom Bombadil, that last…  But then, we had just been reading The Hobbit together…

What nicknames from your family’s history still make you smile?


I am... a writer, an explorer, a coffee-drinker, a recovering addict, a barefoot linguist, a book-dragon ("bookworm" doesn't cover it), a raconteur, a sailboat skipper, a research diver, a tattooed scholar, a pirate, a poet, a spiritual adventurer, a photographer, a few kinds-of-crazy, a joyful wife, a mom... a list-maker! :)

34 thoughts on “A worm by any other name would be… a Hobbit

  1. A sweet story. This isn’t about nicknames, but about names. When my twin sisters were born, they were named Debbie and Diane. My father, who was a pilot and gone most of the time, really couldn’t tell them apart, so he referred to each of them as DebbieDiane. As my sisters grew older, this odd practice spread to my grandparents, and even when they were 12, I remember my Grampy saying something like, “DebbieDiane, come on over here and get your lobster. And you too, Debbie Diane.” Of course, now as adults, I think they would be uncomfortable with their names run together like that, but I remember laughing every time I heard it.


    1. Me too. ;) Truly the child of my soul, this one.

      By the way, I have to thank you for the “Cool Mom” points I scored because one of HIS AUTHORS reads Mom’s blog! ;)


  2. Great story :) For six months, around age 4, my son Coby refused to respond to any name other than Spiderman. His daycare teachers were not thrilled. Now he just goes by Coby-Wan Kenobi.


  3. in my world, Christian is Pip, Katie is Katerpee (sounds so wrong when I write it), and my oldest is Phroshey ( he couldn’t pronounce Jeffrey) –

    as you can imagine, lots of stories – love yours!

    cheers :0


    1. Before the Slimey-day, Christian’s pronunciation of his own name was “Tchin”–so Phroshey makes perfect sense to me. :)


  4. cute boy. seeing him made me think of my adorable 3 year old nephew too who decided to give one of his gifts from his mother back to his mother when he noticed that his mother doesn’t have a gift under the christmas tree…


  5. My eldest son Anthony refused to be called Tony. I was going to leave it up to him to choose if he wanted his name shortened, when he was older. He spoke early and when only about two and half someone called him Tony, and he replied, very serious expression on his face “my name is Anthony”. I knew then he would always be Anthony.


    1. I think I knew Christian would be Christian when my grandpa (his namesake, whose own son Christian is my Uncle Chris) said to me on the phone, “I can hear Chris in the background.” It just didn’t sound right–though I DID assume Christian would shorten it himself by school-age… He complained that he had the longest name in his kindergarten class, but looked at me like I was speaking another language when I told him he was welcome to go by “Chris”… Besides, he’s got nothing on his oldest sister when it comes to the “long name” woes–Kuliakapualokelani takes up a whole line on her driver’s license. ;)


  6. My grown up post grad daughter is still called Moff, as while my wife was pregnant she said she felt like she had moths in her tummy. It has since also mutated into Mothra after the Toho movie monster.


  7. I think it’s fab that Christian has stood his ground over this! My family is shocking for giving nicknames, especially my late father. Thanks to him I have variously been called: twinkletoes (when I took up ballet as a 4 year-old and proved to be particularly inept at it), inky (during my school years when keeping the ink inside a fountain pen or biro as opposed to all over me and my clothes seemed an impossible task), WC (supposedly “Wonder Child”, but with gleefully lavatorial connotations) and zobes (the origins of which have long been lost in the mist of time). Similarly, our chocolate Labrador, Franck, mysteriously ended up as Dunkley Squares. Bizarre.


    1. My husband’s high school nickname was “Twinkletoes”–due to quick feet on the football field (or so he says, lol)… Our 15-year-old follows that tradition by being known among HIS football teammates as “the Flyin’ Hawai’ian.” :)


  8. When my aunt was young, she coundn’t say “mother” or “momma” or any variation, but she could say “Buddi” (which is sometimes pronounced “Budda”). So she and her younger sister would call their mom, “Buddi”. By the time the grandkids came around, we had a “Grandbuddi”. I love that I had a Grandbuddi. (Aside, they called their aunt “Mommy”, because their cousins (the aunt’s kids) called her Mommy. Crazy family.)

    Also, my mother was Christina and they tried to call her “Chris”. My mother put her foot down when she was quite young and declared, “I am Tina”. And so she was.

    And I am “June” or “Miss June” or “Bethley June” thanks to a 7th grade friend who added that to my name. He later infected most of my friends I met as an adult to the point that I now readily answer to June and will sign my name “June”.


  9. My granddaughter changes her name every time she watches a new “Princess” movie. Her nickname is squirrely. She hides everything in her bed. If something goes missing because she especially likes it, that’s the place to look.

    Your little guy sounds really cute.


  10. Book worm – big surprise there – and Sunshine because I smiled a lot. I have known people who were really sensitive above abbreviations of their name. I suppose we should always ask first.


  11. It drives him nuts when people call Alastair “Al”…except Grandma and Grandpa. He is totally cool with them calling him that. Alastair calls his little brother Ephraim (pronounced f-rum) “Effie”. I told Alastair that is fine to call him that now, but when he gets bigger and tells you to stop you have to stop. No debate or I will let him call you “Allie”. My mom called me ReeNee because my middle name is Renee and my dad called me “Cheech”. I don’t know why. I suspect he had a reason he wasn’t going to share with a little kid.


  12. My mom’s nickname was Bella for the guessable reason that she was considered beautiful by her family. She tells people this to this day, without irony or modesty: “… because I was beautiful and had such pale skin.” I cringe every time.


  13. Love this post!

    My Dad had two nicknames for me as a child; Kermit – as in the Muppets, and Dino – as in the Flintstones. Kermit was dropped years ago, but Dino is still a strong contender. I suppose it’s better than the ‘Droopy Drawers’ he calls my daughter :)


  14. Christian sounds like a fascinating – and very intelligent – kid. These stories about him make me laugh out loud. :)

    Oh boy, my family has some strange nicknames. When I was little, my grandfather called me “Boob” – but not pronounced like you think. It was more like “Buhb”, not quite “Bub”. Where this came from? No clue. And at 23, he still calls me this. ::cringe:: It does sort of make me smile, though. :)

    My mother (Kelly) is called Frosty by everyone. She called my father (Nicholas), Spiddle. (Man they’d kill me if they knew I was sharing these names with the world, hehehe.)

    My grandfather (Anthony) is known by his wife, my grandmother, as Clyde. He calls my grandmother (Anne), Vern.

    My boyfriend’s name is Joe and I call him Charlie, even when we argue.

    This nickname business is strange! :)


  15. he he nice story :) I had a few nicknames, it wouldn’t make sense if I named them here as they are Lithuanian and even if tried to translate they wouldn’t make much sense as the nicknames are borrowed from my childhood (mostly Russian) cartoons :D But my current nick name is ‘pigen’. Originally it was ‘piggy’ and my bf is ‘chicken’ but one morning I mixed the names up and said ‘pigen & chicky’… and lately by mistake I mixed up again and named myself ‘puggy’… and the meaning is not very nice, apparently ‘puggy’ means someone very mean who has no friends… :) So there my original nickname is PUGGY, which sounds cute to me :D


  16. Great pictures and story about nicknames. Some are so obvious and others have a story that needs to be told behind them. We were pretty true to our names in my family, but pets must have been confused because their names varied daily. Odd, really… Oh, a post is formulating! ;)


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