When I posted this about Gabriel’s name, I never expected to ellicit the response I did. 🙂
I figure some of you might enjoy a response, so I thought I might as well give it another post. Why not? 🙂 Originally, I didn’t even put it up in search of a discussion about the validity (or not) of nicknames or terms of endearment. I was actually just being kind of silly. I do suppose you could call it a pet peeve of mine — we just aren’t a family of Steve, Mel, & Gabe. It just isn’t us. But in all actuality, I was making light of it in that post. I guess the smiley and wordage didn’t come across as I expected it to. That’s one of the problems with the written word — it’s hard to tell intention without facial expression and voice inflection sometimes. 🙂
I am in awe of Gabriel’s existence these days. As we find out more details about the fight his brothers & sisters have had in my womb, I am just amazed that Gabriel is alive. His name means “God is my strength,” and I just think that is true about his very existence. He probably, by physical explanation, ought to have died in my womb like his brothers & sisters. And I’m not saying that God hasn’t been the strength of his siblings too — I believe that He has given them strength all the way on their six journeys past heaven’s gate. But I think God gave Gabriel, even when he was but a tiny blastocyst and embryo, particular strength and stamina to survive the hostile environment in my womb. So I have recently fallen even more in love with his name, its meaning, its sound, its syllables.
I guess I just didn’t make my awe clear previously. 🙂
At any rate… now that y’all have turned it into a discussion, I figured I might as well respond to a couple of the points that were made. 🙂
Yes, we do get to call him whatever we want at home! 😀 But to extend that… we also get to name our children whatever we want. His name is Gabriel — if we wanted him named Gabe, we would have named him Gabe David instead of Gabriel David. You wouldn’t call him Joseph or Caleb as a term of endearment — I don’t really see why calling him a name (i.e. Gabe) that is not his own, is endearing. But that’s just me. 🙂 Like someone said in a comment, people should honor the parents’ prerogative in that way.
Yes, it is more the acquaintances (and not family members, or even close friends) who do this with my son’s name. It isn’t so much a term of endearment as a term of casualness. Someone will ask, “what is your son’s name?” and after I tell them, they’ll look at him and say, “hi, Gabe, it’s nice to meet you” (for instance). So it’s strange — the automatic shortening, as one of you put it. Wouldn’t you think that the way someone is introduced to you is the way you ought to address them? If I introduce myself to someone as “Mrs. C–” (forgive me for omitting the name; I don’t like to include last names online), I would not appreciate it if the response was, “okay, Melissa.”
If someone asked me, “Gabriel — nice name, would it be okay if we called him Gabe? It would be easier for my toddler to pronounce”… at least that would be giving me an opportunity to say yay or nay on the subject. And I would, as you might guess, say “you know, we’d really prefer if you called our son Gabriel. It’s okay if your toddler can’t pronounce it yet. We know it’ll be pronounced correctly someday.” (One of my favorite things was when Gabriel’s first real friend called him Gable, as he tried so hard to pronounce his name! And now one of his friends calls him BeBe-Oh. So cute.) It’s kind of like my son calling my mother “Mimi.” Her name is Grandmama, but he pronounces it Mimi at this point. He’ll get there. Eventually it will come out correctly.
One of you described it as murdering the beauty of the name your mother picked out for you. I guess that’s sort of how I look at it too. Names are hugely important. That’s one thing I adore about Scripture — names. God named things with beautiful, intricate meaning. His people named things too, according to that pattern. And they still do, largely, today. I can not picture God calling David the psalmist “Dave” (even though he was the man after God’s own heart), or Moses “Mo” (even though God spoke to him and revealed Himself to him). If you want to get all official about this, I believe the meanings of names to be incredibly important. (If you don’t believe me, just check out all my babies’ names in the “About Me” section and you’ll see what I mean!) We pick out beautiful names for our children. On purpose. These children are born to us. Given to us. And we are given the responsibility to bestow names upon them. Appropriate names. Beautiful names. Overflowing with meaning.
As for believing the best about people, I totally get that & 100% agree. I do not at all think that someone is being purposely disrespectful by using a nickname (I guess I just call it ignorance or presumption). I am not at all bitter about people calling my son Gabe. I have never snapped in anyone’s face about it. I’ve never ignored someone when they’ve referenced him with a shortened version of his name. Besides, I have become quite good at either ignoring peoples’ blind comments or simply covering them with love — I gets heaps & hoards of them all the time, especially about my children. So yes, I definitely agree that this is not something to become bitter or resentful about.
Again though, just as it is my job to be gracious to people who call my son something other than his name, I also want to reiterate that it is my job to be gracious to people by calling them by their name, by calling them what they want to be called, by calling their children by their beautiful given names. Unless I am invited/asked to call someone by a nickname, it is a show of honor, respect, love, and affection to call them by their name.