name calling

Recently, Tim and I have been dealing with an interesting new behavior from our dear Eleanor: name calling. Last week she started calling us Tim and Kiyah.
She’s always been interested in people’s names – “What’s her name?” she would ask me as the waitress left the table, or we walked away from the TSA agent at the security checkpoint or she reminded me that her friend Lily’s mom picked her up from school that afternoon – and about a month ago started occasionally calling us “Mommy Kiyah” and “Daddy Tim.” But then last week she decided to cut right to the chase: now it’s just Tim and Kiyah. Plain and simple.

We’re not entirely sure why this shift occurred. Tim speculates that it’s because she’s so attuned to our relationships with other adults that she’s adopted their behavior. She hears us refer to other people, adults and children alike, by their first names. Her dear friend Grayson’s parents have always been Amy and Adam to her (same goes for her friends Jin and Jack, with whom she spends the most time). Her teachers are called Ms. [first name]. Also, I call Tim Tim when I’m talking to him (although I do refer to him has Dad when talking directly to her. I also call him “hon” sometimes and when I once let it slip when talking to her she promptly corrected me: “I”m not hon, I’m Eleanor.”) so I think there’s something to the idea that she just wants to be like us.

I don’t mind it so much (although I will say it serves her better when she calls me Mom, because a whinny request is a little easier to handle when there’s a “mom” attached then when it’s just my name because using my name makes it feel like it’s a request from my boss), but it drives Tim crazy. “There are only two people in the whole world that get to call me dad,” he tried to reason with her the other day, “You and Oliver. I feel special when you call me that.” She laughed. “Okay dad,” she said. “Daddy Tim.”

What did you call your parents, and what do your children call you? Is that by design, or accident?
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2 thoughts on “name calling

  1. I grew up calling my parents Charlotte and Richard and still do. They didn’t ask my brother and I to call them that, but they didn’t call themselves or each other anything else around us, so it was intentional. I think they liked that we thought if them as *people* not just Mom and Dad, if that makes sense. I didn’t realize how different it was until probably middle school, but I could never make the change. My brother started using Mom and Dad in high school but has now gone back to names. Then, we named our daughter Charlotte, after my mom, and I thought I’d try to call her Mom then. Nope, I couldn’t make the switch. Our daughter goes by her initials, anyway:) I bet Eleanor will switch things up again, and I think it’s sweet that she’s experimenting with this.


    1. I suspect that you’re right (“…Eleanor will switch things up again…”) and isn’t this what childhood is all about, anyway- experimentation? Thanks for sharing, Alice!


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