Sometime in the past year, I learned that new grandmothers might not be too fond of traditional, old-fashioned grandmother names. (Let me pause here and note that this topic interests me, but it does not apply to me – at least not yet!)
What’s wrong with traditional names?
I only knew one grandmother, known as Grandmama, easy on the “d,” more like Gran’mama.
My parents were Grandma and Pap.
My children call their paternal grandmother Grandma Git, a name bestowed by my husband and based on a nickname for his mom.
Old-school granny names in the U.S. include Nanny, Nana, Big Mama, Memaw, just plain Maw, and Mama, pronounced “maah-maah.”
My friend Fran, who has been one for some time, said she was always Grandmother, which is a good name. I agree. It simply says it all.
Other countries have very old, traditional grandmother names as well. Nonna, Babushka and Yaya reflect the rich heritage of Italian, Russian and Greek grandmothers.
I like the “old” names. But my friend Sherry did not. Almost as soon as she found out her son was to become a father, she jumped on Facebook to ask her friends what her “cool” name should be. “I’m too young to be a grandmother,” she posted. “So I don’t want an old name.”
This seems to be a common concern. These days, there are websites devoted to helping grandparents find just the right name. Contemporary offerings include Lala, Pippy and Mimi.
Based on my recent (and certainly serious) social media research among friends, there are lots of grandmothers of all ages who have unique names.
Some themes were common, but I suspect there is probably only one Bonka, one Moose, one Bam-maw, one Deedah and surely only one Grandma with the Boat (this from Nancy, who insists they really called her that).
My hairstylist pal Joy said her name is Glammy “because it’s fun.”
Grace is Momo to grandson Tim.
Tina Toomer is Moo-moo, and she says she wouldn’t change it for the world.
Grandfathers also are on the bandwagon, though seemingly not as passionately as their female counterparts.
I heard about three Boompas, one of whom was a geologist who worked with dynamite.
Jock has chosen his name to be Coach, like his father.
Then there’s Big Bob and Tom. Grace (aka Momo) said her favorite name comes from her friend’s kids, who called their grandfather The Man.
Some blogs warn that whatever name one chooses, one should be prepared for the first grandchild to change it.
This happened in our family. My cousin Rusty, the first grandchild of my Aunt Francis, couldn’t quite say Grandma, and called her Giger, to rhyme with “tiger.”
Jodi wanted to be JoJo, but the grands changed it to Gogo. Marcia wanted to be Grammy because she’s a singer, but the first grandchild shortened it to Mimi. Kate chose Glam Gam but it turned into GumGum.
I think maybe my pal Barb got it right. She is Gam, short for Gram, and she suggests grandparents shouldn’t care what they call you, as long as they call you.
As for Sherry, her granddaughter will be taught to call her Yaya, even though there’s not a drop of Greek DNA in her body. How’s that for old?