slice of life · speech

“Don’t call me Izzy!”

Long ago, before my daughter could even speak words, she went by the name “Izzy. But as soon as she could string words into sentences, my daughter declared “Call me Isabelle.”

Like many parents of late-talkers, I did nearly anything my child requested once she started speaking. Calling her Isabelle, instead of Izzy, wasn’t a big ask. Isabelle is her given name. I adore the name since it sounds a little old-fashioned and very French.

Through the years, there’s been an exception to the Isabelle rule. The rule was implemented by Isabelle. Our neighbors (meaning the people who live in our subdivision, but not in our house) could continue to call her Izzy. But everyone else had to call her Isabelle. There were no exceptions for family members, classmates, synagogue members, doctors, or anyone who knew her before she made this declaration.

A few months ago, Isabelle informed us Ari would be allowed to call her “Izzy,” since it would be easier for him to say once he started talking. (He’s begun to make sounds for “hi” and “no” so he has time before he articulates a proper name clearly.) We were impressed with Isabelle’s willingness to make an exception to the nickname rule.

But it didn’t stop there. Isabelle allows us (meaning her parents and grandparents) to refer to her as Izzy in Ari’s presence. While we still call her Isabelle, we use her given name and her nickname interchangeably when Ari is around.

So imagine my surprise when I got in trouble for calling her Izzy this past weekend when we were at Hersheypark in front of her friend Eli! Our families (four parents and four kids) spent the afternoon together at the park. We were enjoying a sweet snack when I referred to Isabelle as Izzy. I didn’t think twice since Ari was sitting with us at the table. A second later, Isabelle shot daggers through me. I don’t remember her exact words, but she told me — in a stern and direct way — not to call her Izzy (in front of her friends).

I won’t make that mistake again. But that being said, I never thought a nickname would have rules attached to it!


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12 thoughts on ““Don’t call me Izzy!”

  1. I just had to respond and say, “Isabelle and I are kindred spirits!”

    Of course, the name Kipp came with the frequent spelling error Kip (which is the male version of the Dutch name…………….and the only way I’ve ever heard the name in the states) However, it seemed great fodder for those who wanted to make nicknames. The nickname Kippy was one that to this day I truly dislike. If you referred to me by that version of my name, you would receive a very cold shoulder from me, unless of course you were my cousin Betsy. To this day, she’s the only person who may get away with it.
    My SO calls me Sweetie, and I’m good with that!

  2. I like that she has a private name only those closest to her can call her. Kieran has one (I’m not allowed to write it). Only I am able to use it and definitely not in public. I’ve written about how Liam thinks nicknames are “making fun of him,” which is obviously not true. My husband thought the exact same when he was in MS and a teacher called him Howie. It was decades later when a beloved student called me Howie that I realized it was endearing, not demeaning. My husband had misunderstood.

  3. Owning one’s name and telling others what one likes feels so important to me. I love that Isabelle feels empowered to set her rules!

  4. This slice makes me laugh because I am the same way. Growing up, I was always called Jenny. Somewhere along the line, I decided that everyone needed to call me Jennifer, except for my favorite aunt who could still call me Jenny. Nowadays, I still don’t feel like a Jenny, but will often go by Jen. Isn’t it funny how that changes? I love your daughter’s spirit and sense of self. She will rule the world one day! (If not already!! 🙂

  5. This is so great! I can feel Isabelle’s personality shining through. We were not allowed to have nicknames growing up because my father, named after his father, had a nickname he hated (Sonny).

  6. So very complicated, this nickname with rules attached to it! I would most definitely mess up more than once and Izzy would be very mad at me! Cute little girl who knows what she wants!

  7. She’s so good at standing up for herself! I feel like I know that about you through your stories. 🙂 At our house, “Claire-Bear” is the banned nickname. It has been form very early on. There has only been one person who was allowed to get away with using it, and he was recently told he needed to stop. LOL

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