Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What’s your name?

Due to recent events that will not be explained further--and don’t worry, the details are boring and you’re not missing anything super dramatic—I’m going to repost a part of a post I did over a year ago about how we refer to Down syndrome in many different ways. This particular part isn’t about DS at all, but instead about our family names.

In our family, names are a big deal. My husband’s name, though I generally refer to him as M in writing and sometimes in person, is Muncher. Yes, that’s his name. He’ll be happy to show you his driver’s license if you don’t believe him. I have two daughters, Nebraska Larae and Kinlee Carene. Not the most common names ever, we’re aware. Usually they are known as Braska and KiKi. In blog land, I’m known as RK, and many people in my face-to-face life call me that as well. My name is Randa (pronounced ran-duh, not ron-duh) Kay, usually used with a hyphen—Randa-Kay—because I’m not a fan of Randa by itself. (Long story, not one that the blog will be carrying.) I have a sister I’ve called by her initials for most of her life, there are others in my family who have been known by nicknames most of their lives and have started using their given names, and there are also cases of the opposite—choosing to use a nickname over a given name.

In case you missed it… “because I’m not a fan of Randa by itself.”

I know that many people who have known me since birth call me this, and in most cases, those people get a pass…my parents, aunts, uncles, siblings, cousins, my parents’ friends, and a very tiny few special people from college. But those people have all known me 20 years or more. As an example, I’ll say I appreciate that my dad calls me Randa-Kay. He doesn’t have to. He’s my dad. But he knows my preference for it and he honors that, and I think that’s nice. Thanks, Dad.

I know it’s petty in a way. And I’m not yelling about it or getting all mad. Though sometimes, when I’ve been clear either in conversation or in writing communications with people, I get a little annoyed that they don’t seem to listen.

It’s like if someone named Mary Ann was emailing me and in her signature was “Mary Ann” every time. And yet when I address her reply emails, I would start with “Mary,” and then go on with the note. What sense would that make? She wouldn’t put “Mary Ann” on there, always signing that way and introducing herself that way if she wanted to be called Mary.

Granted, there are situations where most people know a person as Katie and professionally they go by something more… well, professional. Like Katherine maybe. That’s fine. But her husband and siblings still call her Katie when they get together. If she stipulates that she wants to be called Katherine in all contexts, then great.

Part of it is my fault, because I tend to shirk off the “do you have a preference?” question that some ask about what I want to be called. And I’m not doing that anymore. I’m sharing what I prefer. I mean, if they ask, surely they’re open to accepting the answer, right? If I say, “Oh, it doesn’t matter.” (which has been my usual response) then I can’t get upset that they choose whichever one they want. If I ask someone that question, and they say they don’t care, then I will call them either whatever I’ve known them as to that point or whatever is easiest to remember, depending on the situation. So it’s my responsibility to be upfront about it. Fair enough.

I’ll not carry on and on about it, but just a note…and most affected parties do not even read my blog, but for what it’s worth, there you go. It’s just shown up out of the blue in the last couple of months…and I don’t get it.

Anyone else have issues with the same? Do you use a shortened version of your name or use your middle name primarily or anything like that?

(Edited to add: Per Karol's comment about a preference between RK and Randa-Kay, I don't really have one. So yes, that means you can use either interchangeably. I generally introduce myself as Randa-Kay because to say RK always brings a questioning glance and "come again?" Or the need to clarify what that stands LC knows well... Well, actually, no matter what I say when I finish, "My name is..." I get a request to repeat it. I should have picked a nickname like Betty or something, I guess, and just ran with that. But between those two, either is ok. It generally plays out that people who know me well, end up with RK (like my husband often does), whereas those who are more casual acquaintences call me Randa-Kay. Clear as mud, right?

Karol, I've been RK to your gang since day one, and I'm good with that!)


  1. Well, I don't have one personally but I do have one that's Pudge-related. Don't get me wrong...I knew we were asking for it when we named the girl Lainee Camille Leah Grace, but there was reasoning behind it. And I get annoyed when we're at the doctor's office and they're calling her "Lainee" and she's not paying them a bit of attention and why would she because she never hears that name? But when I try to fill out her paper work with "LC" I'm immediately asked to provide what the initials stand for. It's an annoying catch-22. BUT...I still prefer it to the "How did you choose Jace's name?" question and just have to grunt back, "Ummm...he came with it." But that's a whole other topic...Love you, Randa Kay...

  2. LOL I caught myself doing this twice last weekend and then wondering "what the heck did I do that for?" So for the record, do you like to be Randa Kay or RK. You know, sometimes on the phone you refer to yourself and Randa Kay. So what's your preference.

  3. I always introduce myself as Tricia, but many people call me Trish. I don't mind it. But, I have been called Trish by my family my whole life. Some people call me Trish the Dish, or just Dish. If someone were to write Trish in an email or letter, it might stick out to me since I never sign my own name Trish, either, but it wouldn't bother me. Actually, my dad sometimes writes it that way, but he's fam. I have NEVER felt like a Tricia or a Trish, though, TTYTT. I think it's funny when people call me Patricia. I get that from old men. It's not my name. I get a lot of people calling me T, too. Again, I don't mind. But I can see how it could be annoying if you specifically ask someone to say your name a certain way. A lot of people mispronounce Rainer's name even after I correct them, and that bugs me.

  4. Now I'm curious about the backstory. Because I'm nosy like that.

    I have all kinds of name issues. My full name is Catherine. My parents came up with Cate. I like it, because it's consistent (unlike Kate, which BTW that Kate Middleton is really a Catherine and now has to explain the monogram on her wedding china. just saying.) Anyway, everyone misspells Cate. Whatev. what really bugs me is when people assume I want to be Cathy. NOT MY NAME.

    and a very few people, basically just my family (and maybe a couple of friends who've known me for-freaking-ever) call me Catie.

    So, yeah, sore spot.

  5. I was born a RuthAnn. Capital 'A', no space. The only reason I got from my parents for that was they wanted me to be different (I've fulfilled that one quite well!). I hated my name as long as I can remember. I experimented with Ruth and Ann in grade school, but they definitely were NOT me. So I just compromised with Ruthann. It's my name, it's me, I just normalized it a little. Every legal document I have other than birth certificate, is with a little 'a'. But I get people all the time calling me Ruth. Or after I introduce myself, they ask if I prefer Ruth or Ruthann!? Did they not hear? So yes, I feel your frustration. I'm a two-fer too.

  6. Ha! I missed this post - oh yes the issue of names. I try to be aware of what people both a.) call themselves and b.) how they spell it. I can usually narrow folks down into three categories by what they call me... Jessica - you don't know me very well and/or you have just met me, OR you were friends with me when I was younger because I was always called Jessica growing up in WS.... Jessie - you know me and are friends with me from MO. There was more than one Jessica around when I moved here, so people started calling me Jessie... Jess - you're probably family or know me really well. I think my mom started calling me Jess and since she also works in the church office, a lot of the folks on staff there call me Jess as well.

    I have become to prefer Jess just because it negates the spelling issue. I have quite a few people that spell Jessie without the "i" at the end - Jesse is a boys name to me, not the shortening of Jessica. Just a little pet-peeve of mine, but I deal with it :)

    To throw a huge kink in the system, my husband calls me Jessica (and I call him Steven, because he doesn't seem like a Steve to me...) So really I have no huge preference. Clear as mud? :)


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