Name game

My son’s first name on his birth certificate is Robert.

We have always called him Robbie. He will also answer to Rob. No one usually calls him Robert.

Stephen Harper is the current Canadian Prime Minister. He likes to be called Stephen. I think the only one who calls him ‘Steve’ is President Bush and I just read that he calls him, ‘Yo, Harper’ now. (Yes, this kinda stuff makes the news up here in Canada). 

I have a compound name, but most people call me Leanne. I will answer to ‘Lee’, but since I usually introduce myself as Leanne most people call me that. I guess I would prefer ‘Hey beautiful’, or ‘Woo Hoo Goddess’ but I settle for Leanne.

But I digress. My point is that for the most part I have found that people are polite and pretty accommodating when it comes to names.


You’d think.

So, I was a little surprised earlier this year when my son came home complaining that one of his teachers wouldn’t call him Robbie, but insisted on calling him Robert.

I told my son to go up to the teacher during a quiet time and politely ask the teacher to call him Robbie. He replied that he had but the teacher had refused. The teacher didn’t give him any reason according to my son. 

What the heck?

Now, my baby boy has seven different teachers at his school. ‘What does everyone else call you?’ I asked.

‘Robbie,’ he tells me. Oh, but the gym teacher calls him Rob, and he’s okay with that.

So, guess what? Being the mama bear that I am, I went in and talked to this teacher.

The teacher told me he’d call my son Robbie.

Weeks go by and the last day of school arrives.

Yep, this teacher is still calling my kid Robert. On his report card, all the other teachers refer to my son as Robbie. This teacher? He repeatedly refers to my boy as Robert.

Now, I don’t know what to do. Do I go back in and  talk to the principal next year? Do I tell my son to live with it? Do I talk to this teacher AGAIN? Do I get Robbie’s birth certificate changed?

Can I just go in and slap this teacher up the side of the head?

Help me out here people, I need some opinions.

Does anyone get why this is so hard? Am I asking too much/being unreasonable?

I HATE these stupid little power struggle type of things.  


11 thoughts on “Name game

  1. I think at this stage is it time to go to the head of school – it’s honestly a sign of disrespect to not address someone properly, especially when asked!
    Knowing who you’re dealing with, there’s that whole tempermental artist thing. However, I’m SURE his own first name is a diminutive of his proper name! And yet…perhaps ‘Robbie’ is a word one does not say out loud in his first language? 😉


  2. I have a couple of children who have formal/proper first names but use the nickname version. In my world Jack is a nickname, not a proper name. Like Kate (Kathleen). Like Jim (James) Like Robbie. Like Rob. (My brother is Robert to his family, Rob to many, Bob to some, Robbie to a few).
    Our Jack hasn’t had issue with teachers and what they call him. I think they all refer to him by his nickname. I did notice that different teachers revert to ‘John’ on his report card. I didn’t have a problem with it because it is his proper name and this is a formal document (and only two teachers did this). One teacher did ask if I minded him refering to Jack as ‘John’ on his report card – which started an unexpectedly long conversation on the Kennedys – how Jack Kennedy is really John Kennedy (which I knew…most men, including my father, of that generation named Jack are actually ‘John’) and so on.
    Will Robbie have this teacher in the fall? I would wait…see if the teacher continues to call him Robert and then have Robbie speak to him again. Not sure this is one of those situations worthy of the big battle. His name is Robert, after all. He’ll have plenty of situations like where people will call him what they please (hopefully all complimentary and pleasant!).
    It is a little rude that the teacher is ignoring Robbie’s request but is it worth irritating this teacher and labeling yourself as the interfering mother? I’d put it back in Robbie’s hands – if he feels it is really bothersome and just can’t live with it, then it would have to be addressed.
    Well…how is that for a comment?!
    Hope you are enjoying your summer Leanne (Lee-Anne?). Long overdue for a GNO…


  3. Yeah, yeah, go slap the teacher upside the head. Nah, only kidding. On a serious note though, don’t worry about it. Your son will go through life being called, Rob, Robbie, Robert. My son has a name with 3 similar nickname. Teachers have called him all three during his elementary and middle school days. Pick your battles. Remember your son has to go to school there, and I have know teachers who would be pissed off at something like this, thus taking out on your kid.


  4. Ah yes, we’ve had the same issue in our house.
    My son’s name is William. When he was born, my father (Also William – Bill) called him Billy and was quickly corrected. He is sometimes called William but mostly Will by his teachers, He is Willy or Willis to some of his friends, William when he is in trouble with his mother.
    I don’t know how or when Allison became “Allie”. I went for a teacher interview, told him I was Allison’s mother and he didn’t know who I was talking about. “Oh, you mean Allie…” uh yeah, that’s her name, yeah (?)
    Maybe explain to Robbie that his teacher is of a different era or culture where formality is the norm. Does the teacher use nicknames with other students or use their formal names? Is this teacher calling him Robert to upset him? probably not. I agree with Norah and Philly – pick your battles. Is it really such a big deal?
    Sign me, Sandra (NEVER Sandy!)


  5. I had a teacher in eighth grade insist on calling me Cynthia. My name is Cindy (not short for anything, nor a nickname). I was sent to the principal’s office several times because I refused to answer to Cynthia. The principal was exasperated over it and once even asked if I would just let it slide and answer. I said no. By the end of the week, for some reason, she finally started calling me Cindy.
    Dorks. Wouldn’t it have been easier for everyone if she just called me by my name (it wasn’t even different than what was on the class list!).


  6. Sounds like a stupid teacher if you ask me!!!
    Unfortunatly the world is full of people who are stupid. I doubt it will be the last time he encounters some one who will call him ny the wrong name. I get it all the time — unfortunatly I have gotten used to it.


  7. Absolutely sounds like this teacher is enjoying his power. I think a gentle reminder when the new year begins would be appropriate, but if he continues to call him Robert, I guess I would leave it alone. Someone with power issues might decide to take it out on your son in other ways if he feels he is being pushed too hard. What a bummer.


  8. While I do agree that choosing battles wisely is great advice, it seems to me that calling a child by the name that he/she (and the parents) prefers is a no-brainer. I find myself in a slightly similar situation. My daughter’s name is Elliott. People have given her a nickname – Ellie. It makes me insane. She doesn’t answer to it (only 2.5 years old and already so attitudinal), and she’s the first person to tell you her name is “Ewwiott”. When people aren’t shortening her name, they are insisting that “Elliott” is a boy’s name. I’m not sure which makes me more annoyed…


  9. That is so irritating. People deserve to be called by their preferred name. Talk to the teacher again. Then the principal. Jeesh. You know what? The teacher probably doesn’t even realize but he should. Good luck.


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