Granny Gidget? Grampa Opie? Your old favorites from The Mickey Mouse Club now meeska-mooska transformed into mousekegrandparents? Suddenly, it seems like all the TV kids you grew up with are becoming grandmas and grandpas. They’re taking on fun grandparent nicknames as part of this new role, and you can do the same.
Why wait to see what the little tyke comes up with when you can choose your own name and coach your grandchild to say it just like she or he learns to say “Mommy” and “Daddy”? Here are some possibilities you can try on for size.
For grandpas: Pops ● Grando ● Bobo ● Poppers ● Goopa ● Eepaw ● BoomBoom ● Daddy-O ● Gampaw
For grandmas: G-Mom ● Sweetums ● Bubbles ● Gooma ● Mommers ● Lulu ● Eemaw ● Go-Go ● Mom-Mom
If you lean toward the more traditional, you might want a grandma or grandpa alias that reflects your heritage, such as Tita or Tito (Spanish), Obaasan or Ojiisan (Japanese), Bibi or Babu (East African), Bubbe or Zayde (or any of their many spelling variations from Yiddish), Oma or Opa (German and Dutch). In parts of India, children call their mother’s parents Dida and Dadu, while Swedish kids refer to their father’s parents as Farmor and Farfar. No matter how near or far, endearing names help bring grandparents and grandchildren closer.
Keep in mind when you select your grandparental handle that you’ll be hearing it for a very long time in a great many places. Don’t saddle yourself with a name you wouldn’t want shouted across a crowded playground. (“Help, Poop-Poop, help. Caitlin’s hogging the slide.”) Or down the cereal aisle in the A&P. (“No, Boobie. We want Cocoa Puffs, not Shredded Wheat.”)
Choose a name that will be easy for your grandchild to say. For instance, Grammarammadingdong might sound pretty cute in some bizarre supercalifragilisticexpialidocious kind of way, but that kid will be out of training pants before learning how to string all those syllables together. Better shorten it to Grammy or Gram. And granddads, don’t try to recapture your youthful vigor with a name like Studpop when Dandy and Popdoodle have such a nice manly ring.
Watch out for dueling grandmas, a situation that occurs when both grandmothers want to adopt the same name. You can solve this problem by staging a quick winner-take-all game of Family Feud. Or simply attach first names to the disputed grandname, such as Mama Kate and Mama Linda. That way, nobody even has to think about kissing Richard Dawson.
Often step-grandparents enter the picture, presenting name challenges and identity crises of their own. Your grandchild might even feel less fortunate with only four people to call Gran and Grandy when many of the child’s friends have six or eight. Talk about an extended family.
If you’re a grandparent-to-be, you can test-drive your nickname long before the birth by planting yourself in front of the expectant mother whenever possible. Make up a story or sit down for a cozy chat.
“Hello in there, Baby Joshua or Madison. It’s me, Gammy. Can’t wait to watch The Andy Griffith Show and Green Acres with you on TV Land.”
“Hey, Punkin. Big Daddy here. We’re stopping by to say ‘hi’ on our way to the concert. It’s the Eagles’ Off Our Rockers tour. Someday I’ll tell you about my buddy who had a friend whose brother was a roadie for the Grateful Dead. Or was it Three Dog Night? Anyway, I know you’re gonna love classic rock.”
Don’t forget to run your new name by the woman with the big belly and swollen ankles, and be sure to include her in some of the conversations, too. What she needs right now is plenty of TLC, not the feeling that you see her as nothing more than the rocket launcher for your future grandchild. Remember, she can put an end to your tummy tête-à-têtes at the drop of a hat or the rise of a hormone.
If you’re still in denial about being called by any name resembling Grandma or Grandpa, you can certainly train the child to use your first name. But imagine the embarrassment of introducing you as Janice or William on Grandparents Day at preschool when all his or her pals are flanked by people they know as Grandmom and Grandpop.
The bond between grandparent and grandchild is one of life’s strongest. With your personalized nickname, you’ll stand out from everybody else in that little one’s life. Isn’t that just the way you want it?
Diana J. Ewing is the author of The Baby Boomers’ Guide to Grandparenting