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11 Jun

What’s In A (Nick)Name?

This may come as a shock to many of you, but ‘WonderBaby’ is not WonderBaby’s real name.
It’s not even her nickname. Contrary to what you might expect, we do not run around the parks and playgroups of Toronto calling out WonderBaby! ‘WonderBaby is, like ‘Her Bad Mother’ (pick yourself back up off the floor!), a pseudonymic nickname (a pseudo-nick-nym?).
Her real nickname is – wait for it – Budge. As in, budgerigar. The bird. Don’t ask me how or why this nickname stuck. There’s nothing bird-like about Wonderbaby. Nothing at all. And yet, we call her Budge, or Budgie, or Budgerigar. More usually Budge. It’s not the most elegant of nicknames, but for some reason, it’s her.
Her Bad Father and I both call her this, as name and as proper descriptive noun. We say things to each other like, oh, the Budge. She’s such a Budge. Or, Budgie was so Budge today. Or, is she being a Budge? Such a Budge!
It has emerged, it seems, out of the babble of our love for her. Scrolling through the archives of my memory – and of this blog – I can note that sometime last year I was calling her Baboo and Bapchi, nicknames that are really gibberish, gobbledygook, nonsense. Words that mean nothing, but which are nonetheless utterances of affection, expressions of love in our own private language. Somehow, from Babchi came Budgie and Budgerigar and the name has stuck, perfect in its expression of the inexpressible essence of who she is, to us. Incomprehensible to anyone other than us.
No doubt absurd, to you. But I suspect that however absurd the name ‘Budge’ sounds to you, the idea of an inexpressibly nonsensical but nonetheless perfect name is something you know well. I suspect that you have such names for your children. I’m not going to ask you what those are.
I’ve told you our special name because its specialness is exclusive to our use of it. It is nonsensical, on the tongue of anyone other than us. It has no power, no meaning outside of our little world. For us, this silly, gibberishy word is full of meaning, inexpressible meaning, meaning that melts into air outside of the circle that is us. Meaning that is ours, and hers, alone. So you can know it, because having others know it doesn’t diminish its power. Its power belongs to us.
You can tell me yours, if you want. I’d love to hear your special names. But you don’t have to, if you don’t want to; you could just tell me how it came about, what it means to you. I’d love to hear about it.

Portrait of a Budge.


I was tagged by Jeremiah at ZRecommends to write a post about names; I decided to write about nicknames. Consider yourselves all tagged, too – respond on your blog or in the comments. As I said above, I’d love to hear about your nicknames – even just the stories behind them.


Hey! Have I harassed you lately about writing a post about how – or whether – blogging empowers women? Yes? Well here’s the harassment again – sometime before midnight this coming Friday, write a post about blogging and the empowerment of women and link to MBT. Not only will you feel really, really good about yourself, you’ll be eligible to win a two-day registration to BlogHer. Or candy. Your pick. And your post will be linked up here, and at MBT, and at BlogRhet, where the brightest minds in the blogosphere will immediately set about deconstructing it and identifying its greater meaning. An offer you can’t refuse, no?

And, in other corners of Her Bad World: talkin’ ’bout blueberries and BBQs here, and singing the praises of local bloggers here. And, always, gossipin’ here.