Monday, January 11, 2010

Hey Bab-E What's Your Name?

Many moons ago, when Mom-E and I were first dating, I noticed something peculiar whenever I visited Mom-E and her family:

Both Gramm-E and Grampap, but moreso Grampap, always seemed to call Mom-E and her sisters by the WRONG name.

I'll admit that my first response to this was "SHOULDN'T THEY BE A LITTLE EMBARASSED THAT THEY CAN'T EVEN CALL THEIR KIDS BY THE RIGHT NAME?. (And none of their names started with the same letter.)

I really didn't intend to be hypercritical with this observation; in retrospect, I think it reflected my naivete' about such things. I was blinded by personal experience, being and only child (and my mother was an only child).

As I paid more attention, the usual pattern was to name the siblings in birth order (Mom-E, Aunt-E, CY Aunt-E) until you got to the right one:

Mom-E usually got called by the right name.

Aunt-E would be called Mom-E, no Aunt-E

CY Aunt-E would be called Mom-E, no Aunt-E, no CY Aunt-E (you can imagine how happy this makes a teenager.)

(As an aside, my all-time favorite name mix up came a few years ago when GRAMM-E called OUR house and left a voicemail that started out "Hi, CY Aunt-E this is Mom-E." Oops, poor Gramm-E. Still have that one on tape. :)

I of course wondered if this was a genetic thing. Gramm-E said her dad would always have to rattle sibling's names off in birth order before getting to the right one. Of course, the fact that Grampap was the more frequent offender sorta blew this genetic theory out of the water.

Again, in my naivete', I vowed to call my children by the correct name.

I'll admit that when it was just Big and Little Brother, we'd occasionally interchange their names.

I'll also admit that when we were really tired, we'd interchange Big Brother and Pupp-E's names (which start with the same letter.)

Fast forward to the present day.

Both Mom-E and I (but moreso Mom-E) are having a really HARD TIME calling Bab-E Brother by the correct name. (Again, none of ours kids' names start with the same letter.)

I'd say about half the time we end up calling him Little Brother. As a joke, we've started calling him Little-Bab-E Brother when he's in his crib.

And so, I've figured out that this name mix-up thing has nothing to do with genetics.

I think that as new parents, you're just so UNBELIEVABLY EXHAUSTED that you're lucky to:
1. Call your child by a human name (as opposed to a family pet, mineral, or vegetable.
2. If you are able call them by a human name, your mind goes to times during which you were similarly exhausted. Hence, the propensity to mix up your children's names.

By the time you start to recover from this fatigue (of coursse you NEVER will), the pattern of mixing up names is ingrained and life-long.

I'm sure we'll call Bab-E Brother by the right name, eventually.

I just hope we don't cause any permanent damage.

Any other experiences or explanations?

Have a good week,


  1. I do that too. But its more with my two youngest. We too just recently had a baby. Girl on the 27th. She is the victim of being called her older sister's name. Her sister is a year older than her.

    And the baby didn't have a name until 2 weeks ago. The name is new. It takes getting used too.

    You'll get it eventually. Or you can just give them name tags.

  2. I love how i only have one child, but i mix up little brother with little cousin's name. Probably b/c their names are very similar. It will only get more confusing as i have more children! love, aunt-e

  3. It's what happens with multiple children. My Dad used to sometimes even start on HIS sister's names before he got to my name. Yes, I made that embarassing blunder with the voice mail. Must have been REALLY tired from raising 3 kids..haha. When CY Aunt-E was around 12 yrs old, she came to the dinner table one evening wearing a name tag because she was tired of being called by her sister's names.

  4. I don't have any experience yet, but I am sure the second kid will be called the firsts name. It is a hard habit to break when every word out of your mouth goes to the one kid.

  5. Not to mention the time that Grampap called me Gramm-E, I mean Mom-E, I mean Aunt-E, I mean CY Aunt-E...whatever your name is.

    Which I responded to with "Alright Mom, I mean Dad..."

    Luckily Grampap gets my name right more often now that I'm a "dult" as big brother puts it.

    CY Aunt-E

  6. I actually don't remember coming to the table like that but I do remember being annoyed because I didn't have my own identity at school either. I was constantly called Mom-E and Aunt-E by my teachers.

    Not to mention the time that Grampap referred to me as "Gramm-E..I mean Mom-E..I mean Aunt-E..I mean CY Aunt-E...whatever your name is" To which I responded "Whatever Mom, I mean Dad..."

    Good luck not calling your kids by Pup-E's name. Remember the time Mom-E called you stinky face after our lovely nickname for Beamer? I call (I forget what to call el fiance each time I mention him... let's go with CY Uncle-E just to be uniform) Hashbrown or Otto occasionally... never Harley though .. Hashbrown doesn't know she's a girl and I think Harley does. That must be the difference. Ok, novel done!

    CY Aunt-E

  7. @Eric: I like the nametag idea.

    @Aunt-E: We definitely mix up Little Brother and Little Cousin, too, particularly when they're together.

    @Gramm-E: Agreed that you were tired and are entitled to a long nap after raising 3 girls. Thanks for being a good sport.

    @Otter: Good luck.

    @CY Aunt-E: At least you've never praised Uncle-E with "Good Dog." That one hurt.

  8. My children laugh when I do this, as I laughed at my parents(more so Dad) when he did this.
    You know who you are talking to/about, but your maouth starts moving faster than your brain and the first name you van come up with falls out.
    Eventually, I just decided all of my children were to be called Weasel. No problems since then.

  9. @WM: We could plagiarize you, so-to-speak, and start calling all of the boys Brother. But that's a little too Berenstain Bears for my taste.