Sue Sue Bo Boo, Banana Fanna Fo Foo, Fe Fi Mo Moo...

If you are prospective parents trying to agree on a name for your prospective child, wondering what kind of nickname your child will end up with, you're in for some good news. You really don't have to be concerned, because it doesn't matter. Because whatever you name your child, you will have no control over that child's nickname, or combination of nicknames. Put down those "Name Your Baby" books long enough to spend a few moments with someone who has never been a parent and has never had to name a child. Someone who should have nothing to say on the subject, but has a point of view. Let me tell you why.

I've just played out my part as spectator during the rounds of the "Name That Baby" game with my sister and brother-in-law. My nephew's name was to be Emma Katherine, but that somehow didn't fit the boy that they intuited would be a girl. They couldn't agree on a boy's name. I heard both sides of the story, and the debate over the potential names and nicknames for boys once the baby arrived.

They finally settled on Bryan Samuel ("Well, 'they' don't want us to leave the hospital without naming the baby, so there is some pressure," my sister commented.) Fortunately, the child will not be referred to as the boy with no name.

I'm a real and an adopted auntie (both the "aahnt" and "ant" versions), the oldest of four children, and I've lived a life that includes at least three nicknames so far. Most of my nicknames have nothing to do with my real name, except Sue, which is the name I go by, so I don't think it counts as a nickname. And there's another one that my siblings gave me years ago, one I've been trying to lose. To no avail. Now it's being conveyed to the next generation, and no, I'm not going to tell you what it is!

MY own family could be a billboard for why you don't worry about what you name your kids. How does Christopher Sherman become "Tissy Whistle" or "Kippy," or Janet Elizabeth become "Gummy"? My mom, Emily Rowena Scott, got the name "Scottsticks" when she was a kid because she had to pick up sticks on the playground, and wrote on her notebook, "Scott - Sticks." Mostly, her good friends called her "Scotty." So her first and middle names didn't even play into the "What will the editorial 'they' call our child?" equation.

I've been called a few barnyard nicknames with no relation to my own name, although being born on a farm may have had something to do with it. I was "Cow" Heard in high school after reading the part of a cowherd in a Shakespeare play in English class. I was "Turkey'" in college after imitating a turkey call around Thanksgiving.

And then there's that nickname I don't want to mention, which also belongs on a farm, or at least corresponds to the movie animal named Babe (that's the only hint you get!). The one that I still hear on the phone from family 3,000 miles away. Or to my great and latest dismay, now appearing on e-mail.

Bryan Samuel's brother, Neal Patrick, has been nicknamed "Boo" by his cousins, because his parents called him Nealy Boo when he was a baby. Now these same parents wonder if Bryan's brother will be called Boo when he's an adult. Well, you gotta admit, its a lot easier to call for Bryan and Boo to get down here right now for dinner, but what do I know??!! Or you could resort to ringing a cowbell to round up your kids and avoid the name issue altogether, something I grew up with (maybe that's where the cowherd came from....).

All I know is that it's not worth all the blood, sweat, and tears (the name of a '60s musical group, not a nickname) that I see people going through to give their child the perfect name. It just doesn't matter if, say, your parents name you Susan Elaine, because your mom's mom will announce it's too grown-up for a little baby girl, so she will just call you "sweetie." Or maybe your little brother calls your sister "Ganny" because he can't say "Nanny Goat," the nickname your parents gave her when they heard her first cries. These scenarios basically answer that Shakespearean question, "What's in a name?" The answer?

Everything but what you put into it. Take it from me, Suey, I mean, Sue.

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