I don’t always shorten my name, but I can tell if I like people when they take it upon themselves. If I do, I feel loved and pleased with the pleasantry, if I don’t I feel indignation at the presumption. I’m not always keen on nick-names either, though that is because if they stick I fear I’ll use them in the wrong places.
Spider-boy has started calling me ‘Lucy’. It is his latest weapon in the war against being seen as naughty older sibling in a world of baby love. I don’t like it, although somehow prefer it to being ‘mum’ (or more realistically ‘muuuuuuum’) if there is no chance of being mummy any more. But I understand it, and like the way changing someone’s name, playing with it, rolling it on your tongue and using it for the first time can say a lot about how you feel about them.
Spider-boy partly knows it will make me listen, and will momentarily level the playingfields. After all, I never call him son. I also detect another trait of mine. He is now forever seeking a repeat of the first virgin reaction I had to his joke, my genuine surprise and indulgence, I suspect my smile and mock outrage too. I understand that quest, I find myself repeating old jokes to friends in a compulsion for a new audience who will laugh in realisation. As satisfying when they do as the air popping crack of a sealed coffee jar stabbed with a spoon.
He’ll never find it, that first-ness again, at least with me. So he’s branching out. Sharing his new joke with his friends. They too have realised this slicing down of my status brings indulgent eye-brow raising and conspiratorial smiles from other grown ups. It reminds me of that thrill of being in the big girl’s room you get when you first address your boss by his or her Christian name. To their face.
Spider-boy’s little mate raised the stakes on Monday. He called me ‘Lu’. All that familiarity and a potty pun. Hilarious. As I heard that sweet young voice call a new place for me opened up. I was no longer one of the higher ups but a small person, a pseudo tot with out the power of my parental title or even my full name.
You have to applaud their ingenuity.