Our daughter's full name is Miriam Damascus Palmer. When we named her, I never had any idea that she would ever have a nickname. It's not that I'm against nicknames, at all, but "Miriam" just didn't seem to lend itself to any particularly handy abbreviation. (I have since been proved wrong, very adorably, by Lark's Mimi.)
But I underestimated the linguistic prowess of a 17-month-old. When Miriam was almost a year and a half old, she was still having trouble saying her name. One day, we prompted her to say "Miriam," and what came out was...
Well, here's the thing. It's been almost another year and a half since that day, and I still don't know how to spell Miriam's preferred nickname.
It's pronounced something like "May-may," but not so deliberately. Like "Mei-mei," but non-Chinese/Japanese-influenced. Or maybe "Mae-mae," but not old-lady-ish?
I've been using "MeMe" pretty consistently on the rare occasions where I need to write it down, making sure to put a second capital M in there to discourage people from thinking my daughter's nickname is pronounced "Meem." But even with "MeMe," there's the risk of people thinking it's the same as Mimi, which it's not, because it's spelled differently, duh.
Then my mom had the brilliant idea of using the e-acute (é) to clarify the pronunciation (think "café"). And so I think I can finally say, with confidence, that my daughter's self-chosen nickname is spelled:
What do you think? If you saw that written down, would you know how to pronounce it? If you hadn't read this blog post, and Miriam told you her nickname, how would you have spelled it in your mind?
I just want to make sure I'm doing the right thing by little Miriam Damascus.
For a nickname chosen by a 17-month-old, you have to admit that MéMé is a pretty cute one. I think Jeremy and I were both surprised at how well it stuck. She has continued to refer to herself as MéMé even though she's been able to pronounce Miriam for a long time now. If you ask her what her name is, she'll answer "MéMé." Before she was proficient with personal pronouns, all of her possessions (and some things that weren't hers at all) were "MéMé's." So now, whenever I introduce her to a new person or group of kids, I find myself clarifying that "her name is Miriam, but she'll probably call herself MéMé." It's become its own persona, and it's one that Miriam strongly identifies with.
I think the real test of the nickname's strength will be when she starts school in a few years. It will be interesting to see what identity she will choose: Miriam or MéMé?