i was teaching four little guys yesterday…three preschoolers and one elder statesman from the kindergarten.

one little guy is a family friend, and so though his real name is justin, i call him by his “insider” nickname of deshy.

well, the other kids would have none of that.

i first called justin “deshy” and the others adamantly objected “he’s not deshy! he’s justin f!” (the “f” referring to his last name).

all class, every time i called him desh or deshy, red flags started flying everywhere.

so i explained to the little boys that a nickname is like a name that’s not your real name…something that people who really like you call you. i asked them if maybe their parents called them by different names. of course they did and the boys all piped up what their nicknames are.

“and like when i call miro ‘the hero’, that’s just a nickname, too!” i went on to explain.

oh! lightbulbs all around. got it.

and then…i called justin “deshy” again and the jury went crazy!

“sorry! sorry!” i corrected myself. “justin. not deshy. justin.”

to which they responded in unison, “not justin! justin f!”

despite the fact that there was no other justin the room to distinguish this justin from justin p. or justin r. or even justin q., they were not going to back down. this guy is justin f.

years from now, i can imagine them all sitting around and saying “yeah. when i was in preschool, i totally thought your name was justinef.”