Yesterday was my mom's birthday. I sent her a text that said, "Happy Birthday! Wish I could be there with you. Love you." And she sent back a text that said, "Thanks, Nani-girl! Love you!"
This is going to sound completely ridiculous, but I totally LOVED that text. (I would have saved it forever if my phone hadn't experienced a near death experience yesterday and had to be resurrected by the Verizon guy. He had to reset it to brand new...ugh! I've been re-adding all my apps, and recreating my bookmarks, ringtones, alarms, and settings for the last 24 hours!)
I LOVE the familiarity that you have to have with a person to have a nickname for them. I have nicknames for all my kids...oddly, none of them are the ones I use on this blog. I used to call my oldest daughter "Mouse" when she was really little.
As she's gotten older, that has sort of faded. The other day, though, I was mildly frustrated with her and happened to use it again...I don't have any idea why...but it just melted her. She instantly turned into a 3 yr old, and came over and threw her arms around me and said, "Awwww....you haven't called me MOUSE in forever." Weird, huh?...the way we attach love and affection and intimacy with some silly nickname.
I used to go by NANI in school (somewhere between elementary school and 1984 when we moved to Texas.) I really only have one close friend from that small window of time who still calls me that, and I find it completely endearing. It's a nice reminder that there are only a few people who have known me long enough to use that name.
My husband calls me NANI. I don't know when that started because I don't recall anyone else from high school calling me that. But sometime over the last 24 years, he picked it up and it stuck. He calls me that almost exclusively now, so when he does happen to call me HAUNANI, it startles me. That usually means he's irritated about something. (It's like when your mother uses your FULL name...you totally know it's not going to be a good conversation.)
Then there are the people who are instantly familiar enough that they just picked it up and decided to use NANI on their own. My sister-in-law, Nance, and my friend Shalon fall into that category. Shalon and I worked together in a Primary Presidency and one day she just started calling me NANI. She thought Haunani was too long and too hard, so she shortened it. It wasn't presumptuous. It was appropriately intimate and familiar and it was one of the things that I instantly loved about her.
My parents never liked when people called me anything but HAUNANI because they loved my name. They thought it was beautiful and they felt like it cheated me to mispronounce it or shorten it. But I never felt that way. (well, the mispronouncing thing bugged me, but that was my own fault for not making more of an effort to correct people.)
Today, there is a very small handful of people who call me NANI, and they are people who I LOVE in a way different from everyone else. I love familiarity, and inside jokes, and being well enough acquainted with a person to have a nickname for them. I don't want the whole world to call me NANI, but I'm very, very happy to have that small circle of people who do, and that it now includes my MOM!