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Grandparent Names: He’s “Puggles.” She’s “Big Mama.”

When my friend Jon became a grandfather, he had the hardest time acknowledging it. For months, he referred to his beautiful granddaughter as “my daughter’s daughter.” No “Grandpa” for him, nosireeno.

This was fine—until she started to talk. By then, Jon was completely smitten with Elizabeth, and he couldn’t wait to hear “Grandpa” roll off the tip of her tiny tongue. She, however, had other ideas. She called him the only name she’d heard for elderly family members who cooed over her every move: Grandma.

At the top of her lungs, too.

No name is too goofy when “Grandpa” or “Grandma” just won’t do.

“Fair’s fair,” Grandma Jon said.

Jon is just one of many baby boomers who’s recently wrestled with the reality of grandparenthood. Apparently, we’re a generation of grown-up teenagers who can’t get over ourselves. There’s even a website—Grandparents.com—that offers alternative names for those not ready to embrace the traditional honorific. (GRAND also has our own huge list of Granparent nicknames!)

Some of the sillier options for grandmothers: MeeMee, MeMe, Big Mama, Bigger Mama, Nother-Mother, and GeezerGirl. Grandfathers can opt for Papadaddy, Mellowman, Puggles, Grindiddy, and Geezer Guy.

My favorite combination: MeeMee and Mellowman. I see them as lead singers in a West Palm Beach karaoke band. MeeMee wears a muumuu, of course.

What are the strangest grandparents’ names you’ve heard?
Tell us in the comments section below.

I was barely 50 when I first learned I was going to be a grandmother. My son called me at work with his announcement, and I seem to remember colleagues fanning me with newspapers.

The shock quickly passed, and I couldn’t wait to become Grandma Connie. I stitched a bib with the promise: “What Happens at Grandma’s Stays at Grandma’s.” I was newly empowered, too, by that Margaret Mead adage about how wisdom is passed from grandparent to grandchild, rather than from parent to a child who wouldn’t listen to you if his hair were on fire. (I may be paraphrasing.)

The first time Clayton called me Grandma, I floated across the floor like a dust bunny. By age 2, he’d stand at the front door and tremble with excitement at the sight of his grandpa and me. He’s 3 now, and whenever I ask, “Who’s my favorite little boy in the whole world?” he shouts, “Me!” We are that gloriously obnoxious together.

Many of my friends are grandparents by other names. Some opt for ethnic variations. My grandson’s Greek grandmother, for example, is Yia Yia.

Grandchildren often come up with their own monikers. A sampling: J.T.’s grandson calls him Crackpot because he couldn’t say Grandpa. Sandy’s grandchild dubbed her Honey. Molly’s neighbors go by Jelly and Buster. Betty’s kids know Grandma Vanilla and Grandma Chocolate by their hair color. Carol’s son introduced her to his young stepchildren as Miss Thompson. Now, years later, they just call her Thompson.

A few of my peers see being a grandparent as a chance to remake themselves. My friend Jackie has never met a situation she couldn’t match to a Broadway song, so it should have been no surprise when she insisted her five grandchildren address her as Auntie Mame. Another friend named Jon doesn’t yet have grandchildren, but he knows what his title will be when the time comes: El Funkinator Grande.

As for the other Jon, who took his time deciding he was ready for the designation, he got his wish: Elizabeth, now 8, calls him Grandpa. He is wrapped around her finger tighter than a tourniquet in triage, and just last week he emailed me about a special program he downloaded on his iPad for her.

“It’s a cupcake-decorating app,” he said. “Costs 99 cents. You get to choose the cupcake’s flavors, frosting, candles, stars, jelly beans, sprinkles, and all that fun stuff.”

Long live Grandma Jon.

Christine Crosby

About the author

Christine is the co-founder and editorial director for GRAND Magazine. She is the grandmother of five and great-grandmom (aka Grandmere) to one. She makes her home in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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