the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Lil’ Donette

When we were considering names for Marlo and had nailed the list down to a solid four candidates, I always imagined that if we did name her Marlo I’d get to talk about my two kids, Lee and Lo. Maybe that’s just the liberal arts major in me, daydreaming about the alliterative qualities of my children’s names, or maybe that’s just one of my more annoying qualities. Right up there with knowing every word to every song by Milli Vanilli AND BEING DAMN PROUD OF IT.

We’ve often referred to Leta as Lee Lee, but that’s only one of several nicknames that we toss around. It’s Lee Lee, and Leta-Loo, Scooter-Boo, and Jonny Jr. Many times it is, “YOUR DAUGHTER did this.”


I’m usually standing in the kitchen, one arm perched angrily on my hip, the other pointing at an intricate mess, and Jon is just standing there shrugging, because I guess this? This mess? This is nothing. You should have seen the way he traced the lines on his mother’s faux marble countertop with a black permanent marker! Creativity is to be celebrated!

Really. Because I remember when creativity was to be smacked with a belt.

And so I thought Marlo’s nickname would instantly be Lo. But that isn’t even anywhere near the top of the list. Leta calls her Mario. Jon calls her Mar-Mar. And when I see Marlo’s face the only word I can muster is BUTTERNUT! I imagine that this is terribly confusing to her, all of us screaming different names her way. She could quite possibly grow up thinking her name is COCO!!

However, I do think she is catching on to the M sound in her name, or maybe, JUST MAYBE, she knows how to say Mama:

Message to Jon: I WIN!

  • Mommamel09

    2010/01/28 at 10:33 am

    I did the same thing to my husband when our second son came along. He uttered the word mama and I started dancing and singing, “Ha ha ha ha!! I win!!”

  • Briana

    2010/01/28 at 10:34 am

    Oh man, that is super cute. My first word was cookie (burn, mom and dad).

  • eleanorstrousers

    2010/01/28 at 10:39 am

    My sister’s baby-to-be will forever be known as Butterbean to me. Which she will find charming at her high school graduation, I’m sure.

  • Joceyfae

    2010/01/28 at 10:41 am

    Girl, You KNOW it’s true!

  • Kristin at Make a Note

    2010/01/28 at 10:44 am

    So cute. I love the nicknames too. My son (Will) is known in our family as Booters, due to his excessive kicking in the womb. Our baby (Emma) is either Emmakins, or some variation of sweetpea, sweet potato, etc. I do worry that she’ll have no idea what her name actually is.

    Also…my son’s first word was car, and then he learned approximately 100 other words before he FINALLY said “mama.” And then about 6 months later he started calling me by my first name. So yes, I’ve heard mama or mom for about 6 months of his 3 years on earth. Not fair.

  • tracy

    2010/01/28 at 10:45 am

    Just be careful about saying ‘that’s you!’ while pointing to her in photos. It took some doing to convince Ellis her name wasn’t ‘you’.


  • Pinkporches

    2010/01/28 at 10:47 am

    My son’s nickname is Smackle. Seven years ago Jimmy Kimmel had a 4-year old rapper named Little Max-o on his show. Somehow in the sleepless haze of his newborn wailing, Matthew became known as Max-0 then Matt-o, Smack-o and finally Smackle. We’re in therapy.

  • hammy

    2010/01/28 at 10:49 am

    Thanks. Now my ovaries are all “BABY! BABY! BABY!”

    She’s too cute. Mine is getting to the toddler stage and I miss the baby part so much already!

  • malisams

    2010/01/28 at 10:55 am

    My favorite part of every Marlo video is when she inevitably tries to put the camera into her mouth. Too cute.

  • Jacquie

    2010/01/28 at 11:02 am

    Oh yeah, you totally win!

    Just be careful, because “da da” could easily be confused with “donut”, and the ring thing she is in sort of LOOKS like a donut, and “mmma mmmma” might technically be accepted as an exclamation one might make when trying to consume a giant pink dotty donut….

  • emmajames

    2010/01/28 at 11:05 am

    I’m surprised nobody has called her Marshmellow yet. She’s just that cute and edible. At some point, though, she’ll reject all her nicknames and want to be called something like Sam just to piss off her parents, so I’d recommend getting as many nicknames in as possible while she’s still agreeable…

  • EL

    2010/01/28 at 11:27 am

    You sure her name isn’t Coco? Cuz at the very end of the video, as she’s trying to eat the camera, I distinctly hear you say “Coco, stop.”

  • The Dalai Mama

    2010/01/28 at 11:28 am

    Our son–Noah–often was called No or No No. Talk about confusing for a kid. Our daughter–whose name is Zoë but her nickname quickly went from Zo Zo to Bobo and now when you call her anything–sweetie, messy, etc she shouts ‘No, BOBO.” She’ll totally regret this someday. I am thinking when her first date shows up and we yell “Bobo…your dates here.”

    The perks of parenthood.

  • 3xx1xy

    2010/01/28 at 11:30 am

    My fav part is the “Coco stop” under your breathe, and the sound of I think Coco’s tail wagging and smacking the ground or you, or something, hilarious!

  • CataclysmicStar

    2010/01/28 at 11:31 am

    I don’t get “Mama” – our son, who is about a month younger than Marlo (and as a note, I have nothing against arranged marriages), is only interested in “Dada” and “Nana”. This mama person? No, she only gets up with him at 3 AM and feeds him and compliments him on the texture and stench of his bowel movements. I just give him applesauce and make sure that his connected rings are within easy reach. Nope, that’s not much.

    And as for nicknames – both of our kids will probably never know their names. The youngest has gone from “Alexavier” to “Squishy Fishy”, “Baby Cakes”, “Sweet Cheeks” and “Angry Face”. The oldest, Gabriel, is a myriad of different names involving the words “Boo” and “Bug” (and sometimes “Pissy”). Between the two, I think we could make some fascinating nicknames.

    Oh, and we have that same jumper. Gabe saw Marlo in it and automatically walked over to the computer, pointed, and said, “Look! Brother!”

  • angheiz

    2010/01/28 at 11:37 am

    I won, too. One out of three ain’t bad.

  • gonzojrn

    2010/01/28 at 11:39 am

    Curious readers want to know the other 3 names on the list!


  • Bollocks

    2010/01/28 at 11:44 am

    dude…careful. she’s setting you up!

  • luv and kiwi

    2010/01/28 at 11:47 am

    i keep playing this video for people at work. i’m sorry but she’s just too cute. sigh…my stinkin clock is TICKIN’!!!

  • Calichef

    2010/01/28 at 11:48 am

    My son was a VERY early talker and could say hi, dada and babba at four months. I was pretty ticked that dada came about six months before mama considering that I had spent about a zillion times the amount of time and energy on the little twirp (and I say that in the most loving manner possible) than his father ever did.

    As far as knicknames go, his first was “honey-bunny.” I don’t know why Kendall seemed like too much name for a six and a half pound baby but Honeybunny didn’t. Perhaps I’d lost my mind? The next nickname was given by his paternal uncle and was “Yoda” because he kind of looked like Yoda. That one stuck and people called him Yoda for years. Some still do, and he’s almost 25.

  • teksupddg

    2010/01/28 at 11:57 am

    i love the barely controlledgrowl of glee 🙂

  • abbiescout

    2010/01/28 at 11:58 am

    I loved the Coco stop it at the end! Too funny!

  • The Christine

    2010/01/28 at 12:03 pm

    Funny, we’ve got nickname wars here as well. Unfortunately the nickname that won out for our baby was Poopsie. We’ve really got to stop calling her that by the time she turns 1. I can just see her and her sister greeting each other at family functions in 20 years: “Hey Poopsie, how’s it going?” “STOP IT! My name is VIOLET!”

  • mommica

    2010/01/28 at 12:04 pm

    My daughter earned the name “Peanut Berry” by being such a sweet little peanut, and also because I ate peanut butter and jelly nearly every day while she was in-utero. It’s ironic, because I’m now pretty sure she has a peanut allergy. Sigh.

  • Starr

    2010/01/28 at 12:05 pm

    You certainly do win!

    My four-year-old is so cute when we try to call him nick names. Sometimes we try to call him K.P. (for Kenneth Paul) or we say, “Whatcha doing, Buster Brown?” And he replies, “I’m not a Buster Brown, I’m Kenny!”

  • Circe74

    2010/01/28 at 12:19 pm

    My first word was “squirrel.” I’m not sure what that says about me.

  • GlassofWin

    2010/01/28 at 12:19 pm

    Aw, so cute! My first word was “Joe” – the nickname of my brother, Mario. 🙂

  • squirrelmonk

    2010/01/28 at 12:21 pm

    We have a Marlowe. I’m entertaining the idea of Lola, or Mari, or Mali. Marlowe-posa. Right now we call her Smilodon because her brother loves dinosaurs/prehistoric beasts and she is a very happy baby.

    She just got tooth #3 and will be six months old on Saturday… maybe saying “Mama” will be next!

  • LifesBeenGood

    2010/01/28 at 12:25 pm

    My daughter’s nickname can vary from day to day but most commonly it’s “Shorty.”

    I’ve called her that since she was wee little and she’s fond of the nickname. She even had it airbrushed on her softball batting helmet. It started because she was well… short. She’s taller than me now (at 13) and never fails to remind me.

    My father and my brother call me “Liz” or “Lizbeth” shortened forms of my middle name, Elizabeth. Since my name is Jennifer and I don’t think I would know to respond if anyone else called me that. I think I associate with their voices.

  • Hagan Squared

    2010/01/28 at 12:30 pm

    She is so dang cute I wish I could inhale her!

  • kymmi

    2010/01/28 at 12:39 pm

    I loved the whispered “stop it, Coco” at the end!

    What a beautiful little girl you have there. I’m so charmed by her “mama”s. My own calls me “Mama” and it melts my heart.

  • Maurina

    2010/01/28 at 12:44 pm

    Oh, yeah. That’s a clear case of “My Baby Learned To Say ‘Mama’ First – So HA!, Dada”.

  • Schmutzie

    2010/01/28 at 12:52 pm


  • Greta Koenigin

    2010/01/28 at 1:02 pm

    I’m certain that the average child has at least 33 nicknames during his or her lifetime. That would explain the high crime rates.

  • Monsboys

    2010/01/28 at 1:24 pm

    So very sweet! My sister’s nane is Marlo and all her boyfriends called her Mars.

  • SkinnyThighs

    2010/01/28 at 1:54 pm

    You’re lucky you won out over the dog. My sister’s first word was the dog’s name, over and over.

  • rls8480

    2010/01/28 at 1:55 pm

    E just turned 1 a few weeks ago and still only says “hi” and “mommommommommom” consistently… I TOTALLY win 🙂

  • Parsing Nonsense

    2010/01/28 at 2:02 pm

    I’ll never forget the day my niece learned how to say my name, because she immediately started using it like an expletive. Instead of Erik, she’d say Ekka, with the emphasis always on the last syllable, and she’d shriek it like a curse word “EkKA!!!”

  • Sandra@The Memory Workshop

    2010/01/28 at 2:17 pm

    you should have called Coco “Plungerhead”

  • paigesmom

    2010/01/28 at 2:18 pm

    My daughter was so small in the womb that we started calling her Peanut before she was even born. When she was old enough to talk we asked her what her name was… she said Paige Adele (her name), Peanut, Peanut Butter, Doodles. Those were all of the names that we call her. To this day we only call her by her real name if she is in trouble!

  • mandypants

    2010/01/28 at 2:25 pm

    My son Linus is 18 months old. He’s been saying dada forever now and still won’t say mama. He does however say toot when anyone farts.

  • Athena

    2010/01/28 at 2:25 pm

    Those blue eyes just kill me – it’s like the whole indigo blueness of the Atlantic outside of the reef line is distilled in those two beautiful eyes.

    I love Leta’s eyes too – she’s got a whole forest going on in them.

  • kcbelles

    2010/01/28 at 2:33 pm

    I always felt bad for my younger brother, Reinier – a good, solid Dutch name. But of course, you can imagaine what other kids do to that – Rearbutt, Reindeer, Rudolph, etc.

    He calls himself “Ray” now – which my mother totally hates! LOL

  • CArRiEMc

    2010/01/28 at 2:40 pm

    There’s nothing better than having the evidence to prove it too! Go.Mamma!

    My son’s nickname is Bucko, but it never caught on, which at first I was disappointed about, but now, he’s 28 and it’s my special name for him, nobody else uses! It helps you see, because his real name is Jesse and he is married to a Jessie.

  • skye mary

    2010/01/28 at 2:48 pm

    As a certified infant interpreter, I can state beyond a shadow of a doubt that the child is in fact saying, “MA MA.”

    PS – the Captcha I just completed was “lobotomy assistance.” Are you hand selecting these words? Or does Captcha scan the post and decide what is appropriate?

  • Daisy-girl

    2010/01/28 at 3:11 pm

    I love the name Marlo – would you ever share the other top 3 contenders?

    Keep the videos coming!!

  • MichelleB

    2010/01/28 at 3:12 pm

    I call my oldest daughter “Bailey Boo” and my youngest “Doodle Bug”. Those are their main nicknames. Now I have the issue of forgetting where we are and calling my now 13 yr old “Bailey Boo” when we are at the high school. I suggest not doing that! *lol*

  • holly8615

    2010/01/28 at 3:41 pm

    My children’s names are Gabe and Anna.
    When you say it fast you are saying
    Gay Banana.
    When I pointed this out to my husband as we were
    searching for girl names he said, “Anna it is!”

  • KA

    2010/01/28 at 4:07 pm

    Don’t fret, Jon. It may be ‘mama’ now, but when she’s a teenager it’ll be “daaaaaaddyyyyyyy – can I borrow the caaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrr?”

  • OhBlahDah

    2010/01/28 at 4:28 pm

    Mama! Nothin’ better than hearing the little sweetie say, “Mama.”

    I remember when her name was Donette. All those preggo pictures. They were fun. All worth it when you hear MAMA.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

read more