On Nicknames

Thanks to the loveliness of infertility before Huck was born, I had the opportunity to name every single imaginary baby I’d ever pretend-conceive, only to watch each of those someday names become far too popular far too quickly, causing me to have to pick another, and then another, and then another… (So long, Jack and Ella. And Ruby.)

When we finally got pregnant with Huck, the stress of fertility was immediately replaced with this huge responsibility of naming him. Something traditional but unique. Something that would set him apart but also give him a place. It’s a heady job, isn’t it? How on earth? And even though I’d had the pleasure of having his name picked out for (by that point) three years, the realization that this was all really very real was all-consuming. And we got cold feet…


Huck was very nearly almost… Simon.

For a minute, for just a scant, short minute, he was almost Angus. (I still sort of love that name, so sue me!)

But in the end he was Henry, a family name that hadn’t seen the top 100 on the Social Security registry in nearly a century. And once Brandon was sure that Huck wouldn’t have twenty other Henrys in his class, he was ready to commit to it. We knew almost immediately that we would call him Huck, after one of our favorite literary characters. (Big Mark Twain fan here.) (And honestly, I do consider Huck Finn to have the best set of qualities a mischievous kid could hope to have.)

Then what happened? Maybe this is just where we live–you tell me–but there are a million Henrys in this city. Easily. They’re all about four-years-old. How did I miss this? It seems I accidentally gave my child the most popular name in Manhattan. Duh. Well, there goes that!

So, in the end, the nickname. Aren’t nicknames the greatest? Since he’s young enough not to show preferences just yet, we let people call him whatever they feel like in the moment. He gets a good mix of Hucks, some Henrys, a couple Hanks, and sometimes, Henny Penny (mostly his father). Some days it feels like he has a million names! I wonder which he’ll feel most comfortable with? I wonder if, like my cousin Ty, he’ll turn 19 and demand to go by Steven from there on out? (I’ll never call him Steven. Sorry, cuz.)

What has been your experience with nicknames? Do the nicknames you choose tend to stick better than the ones that accidentally come up and are sure to mortify? (Like Henny Penny, for example…) I’d love to hear your experience!

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