Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Hi, My Name Is..

What's in a name?  Your parents pick one for you and you either love it, loathe it, change it, or your mates decide that adding a 'y' on the end of your surname or calling you something entirely different would work better.  The latter point seems particularly prevelant among men; when I met my husband's friends I had to learn their actual names and their nicknames.  Some followed the classic 'y' model like 'Broomy' and 'Studdy' whilst others stemmed from in-jokes and shenanigans long before I knew them - like 'Queenie' and 'Shed'.  Never happened with my girl friends, our 'proper' names always won out.
So it was decided that I would be Toni, and whilst there have been a couple of attempts at variations from friends and the occassional shortening to 'Tone' my name has remained largely unchanged and problem-free.

  • Except that it is impossible for me to buy plane tickets or fill out a form without it being questioned.

  • Except that when I had short hair as a child, people thought that I was a boy.  

  • Except that sometimes, when my mother and father-in-law spoke to people about their son and me without explaining that I was a woman, some of them thought I was a man. 

  • Except that sometimes in business if I email someone prior to meeting them, they expect to meet a man (do you detect a pattern here?). 

Were it to happen after a meeting, I would be distressed but as that is not the case, the fact that my name creates confusion is something that I quite enjoy and so I thank my parents for giving me a memorable name.

So we skip through life with our first names then some of us become a 'Mrs' and change our surnames.  Big day, big admin task, then big thrill of being addressed as 'Mrs Kent' for the first time.  So rarely do we use our 'formal' names now I feel like I'm in Downton Abbey if I have to say it or reply to it.  It feels particularly strange to be called it by our daughter's classmates - like most of us I don't feel too much older than 25 (even if I look am much closer to 40) so it feels odd to be given such a respectable sounding title.

No 'muh-meee' on here
And so to those children.  Ah lovely little babies that you are, we await your first word with trepidation, punch the air when you babble 'mama' and are overwhelmed when you say 'mummy' properly.  Then you realise that saying 'mummy' gets you attention, and the urgency and pitch with which it is delivered can be extremely effective in causing your parent to appear at a moments notice.  Uh-oh.  Mummy becomes Muh-meeee.  Or Muuuuuuuuuuuummmmyyyyyyyyyy.  Or MummyMummyMummyMummy!  There are days when I think that I must be called it close to 50 times...oh the agony.  Sometimes it is cute, sometimes just about bearable, often absolutely maddening.  There is a special kind of restraint involved to swallow the primordial scream brewing in your chest when you realise that the sound of you shutting the toilet door will prompt a small voice to call your name in a way that suggests something needs your immediate attention.  Even an attempt to discreetly open a magazine at the kitchen table when you think your child is playing in another room gets picked up by their radar - how do they do it?!

I love my children and being a mum has enriched my life but oh how I cherish those moments when I am just plain old Toni.  Hang on a minute - I think I can hear someone calling from, I'm ok.  This time it's Daaaaaaaadeeeeeeeee :)


Soundtrack: My Name Is - Eminem


  1. Hi Toni!
    This is the first of your blogs that I have read, I will be back for more! Off to fid you on Twitter and FB :)

    Sue (RosesCrystal), Newbury

    1. Hi Sue,

      Thanks for dropping by, glad you like it and good to 'see' another Newbury face on here :)

      You can find me on facebook at and on twitter as @tonijkent