Tuesday, April 19, 2016

A maze by any other name



Thai nicknames are weird. 

I've known people named:
Ice
Ball
Me
You
Today
Thanks
Potae (a kind of snack food)
Bank
Estée (after Estée Lauder)
Y2K
Art
Bible
Boat
Earth
Almost every individual letter of the alphabet 
Benz
Pig*
Bird*
Fat*
Stinky*
Black*
Speck of dust*
Tadpole*
Pigfly*
Favorite*
Lotus*
Pear*
Sweetheart*
(*translated)

There are, clearly, no restrictions. Anything goes. But Thai nicknames aren't used like American ones- changable, casual, mainly used with friends and family.  

Thai nicknames are chosen at birth and used almost exclusively throughout a Thai person's life.  It's not on your passport or your bank account, but most of the time, it's the only name people know you by.  Believe it or not, plenty of elementary school kids can't spell their real name.  If you're lucky, they know what you're talking about when you ask them.

Our boys both have "Thai" nicknames.  M's is a derivative of his real name, and we use it about the way people might call their son Robert, "Rob".  Thai people use it, which is fine.  We like it either way.

But L's... It's weird.  It's not a form of his real name.  Whim picked it just before he was born, and somehow it just never fit.  Maybe it's because I love his real name so much, but I can never bring myself to use it.  Whim, to his credit, tries it work it in every few weeks.  And Whim's sister uses it exclusively, so his Thai cousins will use it (once they can talk).  He uses it for Thai class at school, but that's about it.

For the last year or so, he's asked if his nickname could be Maze.  The kid loves mazes; his brain probably looks like one.  He probably wants an actual nickname like everyone else.  And Maze is no worse than half his classmates' names.

But, while I could handle it as an "American Nickname", (like how some American people have odd nicknames like Scooter or Tiger whatever) I can't bear the thought of it being his true Thai nickname.  It would be on his school report cards, his social media accounts, his wedding invitations.... 

I would have a son named Maze.  Hopefully I can put it off a little longer - like until this summer.  Maybe by the time we're back in BKK, he'll have moved on.

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