Mum, love, mummy, guapa (though not recently), Nell, madam, honey, Mrs Panther, wife, lady, Ms Arnison, boss, Ellie, mama, Ellen Mary, hen, Auntie Ellen, babe and, sometimes, simply Ellen. These are just a few of the things I’ve answered to over the years.
And having a name as apparently complicated as Ellen, I’ve also been called Helen, Elaine, Eileen and, unaccountably, Alison. I just reply, it doesn’t really bother me.
When my ears are ringing with “muuuuuum, mum, muuuummmmeeeee” sometimes I think I’d happily never be called that again. It kind of echoes in your bones though, doesn’t it? Someone else’s kid only needs to get halfway through the word and an internal switch has flicked. It’s true. Look around a supermarket or shopping centre the next time a child wails for its mother. Twitching at the sound is a surer mark of parenthood than saggy boobs and eye bags.
But Boy One has suddenly decided in his Asperger’s way that only proper names will do. Any slip into using the shortened version of his name that has suited him well for ten years now sparks fury.
“That’s not my name. If you loved me you’d use my name. Don’t call me that,” he rages.
I’ve tried to point out that in a family nicknames and silly baby names are part of the fun… a bit like a cuddle in a word, but he’s not having it.
He’s also decided that I’m going to be Ellen because that’s my name. In principal, I don’t mind. It’ll be easier to pick his bleat out from the flock. And, as the Panther pointed out, it works for Bart Simpson.
But it’s horrible, I hate it. It makes me cringe. I can’t explain why, it’s not as if I’m not used to it. It comes into my ears like an insult.
“Ellen, Ellen, Ellen, where are you?”
“Please call me mummy, it’s special.”
“No it isn’t, there are millions of mummies.”
“Not your mummies though. There are only three people who can call me mummy and one of them can’t talk yet, that’s special.”
“No you are Ellen. I’m going to call everyone by their proper name except my teachers because it makes them cross.”
This is going to need a long hard look into my store cupboard of logical explanations. There has to be something there that will persuade him that if he can reject with vigour his pet name, I can insist on mine.