Tag Archives: names

Bring It Up Again, Sam

7 Feb

I’ve told my children lots of stories since they were little. Some of the stories came from books. Some I made up myself. I remember telling my son a story about a blue frog that got separated from the other blue frogs and had to find his way back to blue frog land. I was planning on having the blue frog go through many adventures, with my son rapt. He would love this story so much, I thought, that it would become his favorite and every night he would ask me to tell him the story of the blue frog. He hated the story of the blue frog. He was so upset about the frog being separated from the other frogs that he began wailing, “No! No!” He didn’t stop wailing until I said, “The frog turned around, saw millions of other blue frogs and they all lived happily ever after. The end. Good night.”

I do know some stories that my children like to hear again and again. Unfortunately, they all involve puke. For some reason, my kids think puking and stories involving puking are just hilarious. I’m pretty sure my kids aren’t unique in this. My daughter’s best friend is frequently at our house, so has heard at least one or two of our family puke stories and has laughed along with the rest of us.

More of these stories feature my son because he seems to have the weakest stomach in our house. I would think that the person who the stories are about would not find these stories at all amusing. I know I don’t get a big kick out of recounting the times I’ve lost my lunch. But, my kids laugh hardest at the stories about them. My son, for instance, regularly tells friends about the time he vomited all over the Legos at aftercare. “Yeah, I was just sitting there, playing with the Legos and, all of a sudden I horked all over them. It was a mess!” My son and his friends laugh. I just roll my eyes.

My son’s favorite stories involve him being sick on or near his parents. He recalls being sick once and allowed to sleep in our bed. After sleeping for some time, he awoke. “How are you feeling?” we asked. “I feel much better,” he said sincerely. One second later, he was sick all over the bed. I remember a similar incident when he had been sleeping off an illness on the couch. He came into the bathroom where I was washing my hands or brushing my teeth or something. I asked how he felt. He said, “I really feel ok” and immediately retched on the bathroom floor.

While my kids are laughing so hard they cry when I tell these stories, I tell them completely straight-faced. See, I don’t think they are particularly funny because I am the person who has had to clean up. These puke fests never seem to happen when it’s just my husband with the children. My husband has never been puked on from head to toe so that he had to shower before he could take his clothes off. No, the puke patrol is my personal responsibility.

Though my husband hasn’t been barfed on, he has been victim of an exploding diaper. When our son was very tiny, we lived in a house with a basement family room. The kitchen was at the top of the stairs. Frequently, my husband would watch TV with our son, no more than three months old, sitting on his lap. One evening, as I prepared dinner, I heard my husband shout, “Oh, holy mother of god!” followed by “Oh, my god!” followed by “Jesus Christ!” The litany repeated as I heard my husband’s feet plod up the staircase. The baby came around the corner first, held stiff-armed away from my husband’s body, then came my husband. He handed me the baby. While my husband changed his pants, I cleaned the baby. I had the baby cleaned and changed long before my husband stopped calling on the Virgin.

After I’ve been coaxed into telling my son’s puke stories, my daughter begs to hear a story of her own gastric misadventures. Problem is, there aren’t many. My daughter is always on the alert for anything wrong with her body. Every scratch must be inspected, every sneeze investigated and every slight rumble of her interior workings must be respected so she makes it to a safe vomitorium on time. She is, however, the child who covered me from the top of my turtleneck to the bottom of my blue jeans. I was an experienced mother by that point, though. I didn’t miss a beat. It happened in the bathroom so I turned on the shower, then stepped in fully clothed. I set the baby on the shower floor. Baby, clothes and I all got clean quickly and easily. I believe I actually thought, “Thank God, she only puked on me.”

My daughter doesn’t remember the most spectacular spewing involving her. It happened just minutes after she entered the United States for the first time. When we went to China to bring her home, we were warned again and again about drinking the water, eating the food, etc. So we took great care throughout our trip. The last night in China, though, I got sick. I got really sick. And then I got sicker. The hotel doctor came to our room with a nurse and syringes. He injected me with a magic potion that stopped the vomiting and the nurse injected me with fluids to counter the dehydration.

I felt better. We got on the plane. I felt fine the whole trip. I felt fine until I stopped feeling fine while we waited to go through Customs. I got that unmistakable feeling and began frantically looking for a receptacle of some sort, any sort. Nothing. Nothing, that is, except my new daughter’s lovey, a soft piece of blankie with a bunny head sewn to it. A mother does what a mother has to do.

I didn’t tell my daughter this story until after she’d outgrown her lovey. She never begged to have the story told, preferring to hear one of her brother’s. Recently, though, she included the story in her “all about me” presentation at school. I understand it was a big hit. You can’t beat a good puke story.

Sticks and Stones

11 Oct

My name is Janice. Most people call me “Janice.”

Now and again, someone will get it in their head that they should call me “Jan.” Usually, these are people with names like “David,” “Barbara,” or “Patricia.” They introduce themselves using their whole name, then say, “But you can call me (insert shortened form of longer name).” Like this, “Hi, I’m David, but you can call me ‘Dave’.” Why don’t they just say, “Hi, I’m Dave”?

Never in my life have I said, “Hi, I’m Janice, but you can call me ‘Jan’.” I have said, “Hi, I’m Janice.” The Daves, the Barbs and the Pats then proceed to say, “Hi, Jan. It’s nice to meet you.” “Please call me ‘Janice’,” I say. Most people understand that this probably means I don’t want to be called “Jan.” Every now and then, though, I run into someone who just really wants to call me “Jan.”

When I was in high school, I sang. For four years, the choir director called me “Jan.” Maybe he thought I went by “Jan” because my older sister, whose name is “Roberta,” went by “Bobbi.” I think probably he liked her better, too. Lots of people liked her better. She was a senior and pretty and nice and friendly. I was a freshman and gangly and sullen and sarcastic. I’m pretty sure, at least in high school, that even my parents liked her better.

By my senior year, my sister had graduated and just about everyone in the choir knew that I really didn’t like to be called “Jan.” One day, when the choir director called me “Jan,” I heard the male voice sections respond, “ -ice,” thereby completing my name.

My last name caused much more trouble for me in school than my first name did. If I was gangly, sullen and sarcastic in high school, I was just sarcastic in grade school. Sarcasm is lost on most fourth graders.  Mostly, they just thought I was weird. The playground was not a happy place for sarcastic weirdoes like me. I recall one particular day being cornered by a number of my less weird and less sarcastic classmates who taught me how to play “dress up” while calling me “Janice Lindegarter belt.” I was humiliated, of course, but my inside-my-head voice was saying, “My God. ‘Lindegarterbelt’? Is that the best you can do?”

I can still have trouble with my last name, though no one has called me “Lindegarterbelt” in more than 43 years. When someone asks me for my last name, I say, “Lindegard.” I do this because they asked for my last name and my last name is “Lindegard.” More frequently than you probably will believe, they say something like, “Oh, I’m sorry Mrs. Gard, we don’t have anything on file for you.” And I will have to correct them and say, “My last name is ‘Lindegard.’ The whole last name. My first name is ‘Janice’.” I have never added, “you idiot.” My brother may have added, “you idiot.” He has had the same thing happen to him when someone asked for his last name and did not look up from whatever they were searching through.

Though I don’t go by “Jan” or “Lindegarterbelt,” I have had some nicknames in my life. My nicknames are person-specific; as in certain people call me certain names.

My husband calls me “Boo Boo.” This surprises me. I would think “Boo Boo” would be something you call someone who is cute and sweet and loving, not someone who criticizes the way you do everything, from mowing the lawn to rinsing the dishes. I do think I’m kind of cute, so maybe that’s my “Boo Boo” factor.

My sister calls me “Bean.” I have no idea why. I call her “Bird.” I know why. She knows why. Maybe she told me why she calls me “Bean” once, but I’ve forgotten. My brother calls me “J.” Pretty obvious why he calls me that, I think. If he called me “Jan,” I’d have to hurt him, so he cuts everything but the “J” off and gets to keep his hair.

Some dads call their daughters sweet names like “Princess” or “Sweet Pea.” My dad called me “Pig Pig.” I think he probably liked my sister better. He never called her “Pig Pig.”

I’ve mellowed about name-calling as I’ve gotten older. When my daughter called me “Poopy Pants” because she didn’t like something I said to her, I said, “Ok, Doody Drawers, but you still have to clean up your mess before you go out.” Soon, we were calling each other “Poopy Pants” and “Doody Drawers” on a regular basis. It was cute; it was funny. My daughter’s best friend thought it was cute and funny. She tried it with her own mother. I think she got grounded and I’m pretty sure her mother didn’t believe that “Abby calls her mom ‘Poopy Pants’ all the time!”

My daughter doesn’t call me “Poopy Pants” much anymore. Lately, I’m a “big, fat, big-headed old baby.” I don’t remember if I was trying to get my daughter to stop, or to start something. I didn’t miss a beat, though.

“That’s right,” I said. “That’s me. I’m a big, fat, big-headed baby.”

“You forgot old,” she said. Then she did whatever it was that she had resisted doing before calling me names.

Name-calling seems to vent steam in my house. When I let my daughter call me a “big, fat, big-headed old baby,” I’m giving her a safe way to express her anger and I’m showing her that someone else’s words only have the power to harm if we allow it. I don’t get upset about being called a BFBHOB, because I’m not big or fat. I don’t think I have a particularly big head and I’m certainly not a baby. I’ll give her old; I am, compared to her.

We both know that what she’s saying isn’t true. She also knows that the rules for name-calling are different at school and with friends. She’s a smart girl.

So, she calls me a “big, fat, big-headed old baby.” Sometimes, she even adds “mean” or “ugly” and then she laughs and I laugh with her. But if she ever calls me “Jan,” the girl is grounded.

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