Just Call Me Bill, Son

Many Zoomers cringe at the prospect of being called grandma or grandpa. That’s a name for old people with thinning white hair, canes and rocking chairs.

We want our grand-kids to know we’re awesome, fun and forward-thinking. So we spend considerable time deciding what we want to be called. Just as naming a child is a thoughtful process, we have to consider we may live with the names our grandchildren call us for many years, not to mention through a few of their (and our)personality changes.

While the most common monikers for grandparents in North America still include classics such as Nana, Bubbe, Grandma, Granny, Gran, Gram, Grammy, Papa, Zeidy (or Zayde),Grandpa, Grand-Dad and Gramps,some of us want a name that has less to do with our legal status and more to do with our youthfulness and the special bond we share with our grand-kids.

Around the world, grandparent names range from Oma and Opa in Germany and the Netherlands, Nonna and Nonno in Italy to Oba-chan and Oji-chan in Japan and babic’ka and de’d in The Czech Republic. Spellings differ and,to make it even more complicated, names change in some languages for paternal and maternal grandparents.

Sometimes, a name originates in the admiration of others. My choice for the name my grandchildren would call me was grammie, because my husband’s mother was called grammie and she was the best ever. I aspire to that. My mother called herself Nanny because the children of a friend she admired called their grandmother Nanny.

Since we are all living longer, a child may have a great-grandparent as well as a grandparent. My friend’s name is “little bubbe” and her mother’s name is “big bubbe” even though, in terms of size, the opposite is actually true.

Often names evolve according to what a young child can pronounce. Bethany of Prince Edward Island is “buzzy” to her grandkids. Years ago,they asked her what her “real” name was and because it was too difficult to pronounce, the name Buzzy became their favored nickname for their grandmother.

As the progeny of divorce along with remarriage, my grandchildren have several sets of grandparents. While I am grammie or sometimes affectionately”gra’m cracker,”I have also been referred to as “grammie with the orange hair, a name that quickly convinced me to change my hair colour. Their other grandmother is “robotic grandma” because she had hip surgery. They also have a “skinny grandpa” and a “big tummy grandpa.” Their honesty can be less than endearing.

But what do grandkids call the spouses of their grandparents? Bill, from Saskatoon, is already gramps to his own grandkids, so with his step-grandchildren, he prefers to be called simply “Bill.” Lynda’s husband Don, of Oakville,spends a lot of time with her grandchildren and they call him “daddoo,” which may actually have some Gaelic roots.

Let’s face it. Whatever we’re called,the relationship is special and the name isn’t as important as the admiration and affection it denotes.