There is a long list of nicknames I’ve been called throughout my life.
My Mom was fond of RM, but my Dad hardly ever called me anything but Rosemary. The siblings called me many things and luckily I still have friends who know me as Mur.
The other names…well, they were said in ridicule or humor or teasing or meanness. It depends on the when and the where and for sure, the who. From grade school through high school, I heard them all. Repeatedly.
But it’s the name in the title of this blog that should have scarred me for life. Yes, a couple of beloved cousins—you know who you are—labeled a cute, redheaded little kid with, “Snotnose 38.”
Yep. What were they thinking?
Kids are mean.
I know this. I know that today in our society, bullying has reached epic proportions. The internet has exacerbated the problem. I’ve no idea how I would have turned out if some of my more humiliating moments had been captured on video and sent around cyberspace.
It was bad enough having my less than shining moments shared among the dozen cousins that occupied my stratosphere. In our neighborhood, growing up on the dead-end known as Griffith Road in Griffith Hollow, nothing was off limits. We tortured each other and played and fought and played and fought some more.
Hm, I’m wondering if being saddled with those nicknames is what inspires me to bestow nicknames on people who cross my path.
Sister is Seester or Scajewea
Brother is Wojo
Other sister is PKS (Punk Kid Sister)
Niece is Bear
Nephew is Adam Ant (I haven’t gotten to his kids yet, but look out)
Brother-in-law is Jeremiah (his own fault–he can recite all the words to Jeremiah Johnson)
Dad was Daddeo from 1950s movies I loved
Mom was Mumsey
Seester and I played with K&J a lot.
They were a year and two older and I think we liked their adventurous spirits. Always active, we were crazed critters when we were around them. We roamed the woods that seemed massive when we were three and four feet tall, we dared and double-dared each other to try this and do that. Well, okay, I never seemed to win with the double-daring.
Our parents taught us to laugh at ourselves—that’s one of the most difficult lessons to learn. Right up there with taking the blame when it belongs squarely on your shoulders. Who the heck likes being wrong or ridiculed? Jeez. Especially at age eight?
But I have to blame these cousins for shaping me up. There was a long time I was a fiery, quick-tempered, redhead. Somewhere along the line, thank goodness, that went away … replaced with laughter. Don’t get me wrong, the temper can still flare, mostly over bad drivers and injustices that cross my path (or lane). But the temper goes poof pretty fast and I’m left cracking wise.
I’ve been a bully.
I once was so exhausted by an employee trying to please me (never asked him to) that I drove him to join the military. In my defense, he came back a year later and thanked me—said it was the best decision he’d ever made.
Niece was a brute to her brother. We continually warned her that although older than he, eventually he would be much bigger and stronger (ok, that was before she became a Crossfit person and might actually out-dead-lift her brother–or even lift her brother). We told her that someday he would get back at her for the mistreatment. The kid let us down. He remains the gentle soul he was when he was a child and although he’d occasionally scream, “Zenny!” at the top of his lungs, he never did actually haul off and smack her a good one.
Good for Adam, but for Jenny? Just kidding, niece.
Oh dear parents, there’s a lot to balance with kids picking on each other because that’s what kids do, and having to worry about childhood teasing escalating into a real bullying problem. Each time I hear of a tragedy where a child has committed suicide, I am horrified. When did kids-being-kids cross over to such a brutal problem? And how are parents battling it?
I’m ever so thankful that the worst things K&J did to me and Seester were bug-related.
That said, Seester, did you ever get over that fishing worm squiggling on your finger the time they made you stand there with your eyes closed?
Note: This post was originally shared a couple of years ago. For technical reasons (okay, it was spammers), I had to remove it. I like this post so much, I’m re-sharing.