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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Grandma is not a dirty word

A story in today's Boston Globe talks about how many baby boomers love being grandparents, but don't love the traditional "grandma" and "grandpa" monikers that come with the role.

Now, I am not a boomer. In fact, I am the child of boomers. But I consider the titles "grandma" and "grandpa" to be honorable.

When I had my first child, and my parents first grandchild, my mother couldn't wait to call herself Grandma. She told me that she felt she'd earned it -- this from a woman who just four years earlier had given birth to my youngest brother. Still, as the parent of a then preschooler, she was not scared off by the word "grandma."

My mother-in-law, on the other hand, wanted nothing to do with the word. Her own mother was never "grandma" to my husband and his cousins -- they call her "Buck." My father-in-law had already declared "Poppo" as his grandparent name. So we were quite scientific in how we chose a name for our kids to call their grandmother; we went down the alphabet>:

GoGo...GoGo, that's it!

My mother-in-law will tell you a few tales about how the name came to be, but now you know the truth.

I understand the need for alternate names to differentiate between sets of grandparents; I grew up with a Grandma and Grandpa and a NaNa and PaPa. And I suppose that it's each person's prerogative to decide what they want to be called.

But some of the names cited in the article and included in The New Grandparents Name Book just don't sit well with me.

"Sonoma" and "Napa" for grandparents who are wine lovers. In that line of thinking, Mike and I would be "Jedi" and "Scrabble."

"Bubbles" and "Pebbles" conjure up images in my mind of flighty women who might be delivering singing telegrams or else making balloon animals at birthday parties.

So when it comes to be my turn to be a grandparent (in no less than 16 years or so, kids), I'll proudly be "Grandma" and I'll expect a sweatshirt that allows me to tell it to the world.

(Note: This is a little bit of a cheater's post -- I posted it here earlier today.)


Momza said...

I was told that I do not get to choose what my grandchildren will call me, that THE first grandchild gets the honor of naming me, depending on their speech abilities.
I am a-ok with that. Granma, Nana, or Grand Old long as they let me smooch their little neck who cares?

francesco said...
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Eternal Lizdom said...

If Jeff could find a way for anyone to refer to him as "Jedi," his purpose in life would be fulfilled.

We have Grandma and Grandpa (my parents) and we have Mimi and Pop-pop. Mimi came about because Teagan couldn't easily say "Grammy-" which is what all the other grandkids call her. I like that we have something unique. Pop-pop is also unique for our kids because all the other kids call him Grandpa but my dad is Grandpa (although a rather unconnected one). My husband often calls his dad "Pops" and hence... Pop-pop was born.

I'm all about grandparent names that sound like grandparent names. I'm all about the honor thing, too.

Jessica McCoy said...

I agree... although I'm not even Mom yet. My dad's parents are Grandma & Grandpa. My mom's parents were Nana & Palpal (not sure how to spell that). My hubby's parents are Mimi & Papa. My mom & step dad are already Nana & Papa so I don't get to choose ... HAHA.

Marine Wife said...

My college roommate's daughter couldn't say "Pop" for her grandfather so he ended up being "Bop." So grandparents should be careful what they ask to be be called, it may mutate into something else!

Sharon said...

I think it's silly how some people are offended to be called "grandma", "grandpa". or even "sir & mam" for that matter.

The definition of a grandparents is what defines it. NOT age, NOT lifestyle, etc. I think it's so darn petty and vain to take offense at being called Grandma/pa.

Aidan calls my father-in-law "Buppa", because that's what it sounded like when he started saying "Grandpa". He's the 1st grandchild, so it stuck.

I look forward to the day when I have grandkids (& they better wake my kids up early like my kids wake me!), and I will be just fine w/ "grandma".

Anonymous said...

On my Mom's side we had Nonny; that's what she asked to be called. On my Dad's side we had Baptzsha [bop' shah]& Dzadek [Jah' deck]. I am sure that is not how you spell it, those are in Polish.

My kids got already-named Meemaw & Grandaddy on their Dad's side. My Mom wanted Grandma, although for a while she was dubbed Grandpa. That was pretty cute.

Shannon @ Gabi's World said...

My parent's are Nana and Papa, but they started off as Grandma and Grandpa. It wasn't until the 2nd grandchild that the name change took place. My nephew had trouble pronouncing grandma and grandpa, so Nana was what he called her (sounds like Nancy [her name]), and Papa sounds like grandpa. So after that, my niece also started calling them that and it stuck.

My oldest son, Jeremy, has a Mima and Papi, but that has to do with culture. Jeremy is half Puerto Rican, and that is like the spanish version of Nana and Papa. It's certainly easier than Abuela and Abuelo. Although his great grandmother is called Abuelita.

And I get the oddest word verifications on your site!! LOL Today, I have to type "pinis!" Too close for comfort!

Amy said...

@Liz -- Jeff and Mike would get along swimmingly.

@Shannon -- My sister's MIL is Japanese. The Japanese word for grandmother is something like obachon. My nephew couldn't say it, so she became "Ahchibah"