My son and daughter in law are surely busy pondering all those things that new parents-to be ponder, among them what name to choose for their baby. With my daughter in law’s Asian heritage, an entire new world of possible names opens up to them. In Thailand, the custom is to give children easy to pronounce nicknames, since their given names are often long and complicated. For instance, my daughter in law’s nickname is Apple (yes, like Gwyneth Paltrow’s daughter), or even just Ple. She has a sister nicknamed Cherry, and a little niece who answers to Idea.
Meanwhile, here at home, we’ve been giving a little thought to what we’d like the child to call us. I’ve never really liked “Grandma” or even “Grandmother,” and it’s rarely been used in our family. My own grandmother referred to herself as “Mammy,” a good old southern name that originated in slave days – perhaps that’s what she felt like sometimes, because she did a lot of cooking and cleaning up. I called my grandfather Granddad, which fit well because he performed lots of dad-like functions for me all through my childhood. When Brian was born, I started out calling my mother Grammy, but sometime around the age of 3 or 4, he began calling her Mamoo. I never knew where that came from, but it stuck, and that’s what he calls her to this day. My dad was always Papa, although I can’t recall how that originated either. Jim’s parents were Grandma and Grandpa to Brian, and these traditional monikers seemed to fit their function in his life quite well.
I was intrigued by this article in the New York Times last week. Apparently, the issue of how to name ourselves as grandparents is a big one on baby boomer’s minds. “Resistant to being called anything that makes them sound old, baby-boomer grandparents have taken to accepting toddlers’ neologisms and ethnic variations or, better yet, naming themselves.” There are actually books about it. “The New Grandparents Name Book, a Lighthearted Guide to Picking the Perfect Grandparent Name” (ArtStone Press), offers 700 (yes, 700!) unstodgy alternatives to “Gram” and “Gramps.”
So what are some of these new grandparent names? G-Mom, DooDad, BuyaBuya (I certainly get that!), Nonna, Mimi, Popsi, PawPaw, Papa John (or Jim in our case). For the sophisticated wine tasting set, there’s Sonoma and Napa. (I’m not making this up.) Goldie Hawn’s grandchildren call her GlamMa. Blythe Danner requested Woof (!) but accepted Lalo as the children’s choice.
I suspect that our final choices might end up being a bit more pedestrian. Luckily, we’re spared the need to come up with two sets of names, because of course the child can call his/her Thai grandparents by whatever Thai variations they choose.
Of course, it’s entirely possible that the child will eschew whatever names we pick and come up with something totally original. That wouldn’t surprise me in the least, given the independent and creative streaks brewing in those genes.
I just hope it’s not Woof. I’ll happily surrender that one to Ms. Danner.