Naming the Grandparents


I thought for sure that I had written a post about this but I couldn’t find it. I wanted to check to see what I had said before the grandboys were born to see if I still felt the same.

Because, you know, we’re just making this up as we go along! “This” meaning, life.

So, I was talking to someone today about a mutual friend who is about to be a grandparent and we were talking about the naming of the grandparents and how that happens.

So, in the way I always try to be honest with you, dear reader, I’m going to tell you how it is happening with me and the more I talk to people it seems I’m having a pretty common experience.

So, when you find out you’re going to be a grandparent there’s shock, disbelief and then denial. You won’t be able to believe that you’re old enough to be a grandparent. Then you don’t want to believe you’re going to be a grandparent, not because you’re not thrilled, but you know, being a grandparent comes with all that baggage about being ancient and knowing Moses when he was a youngster in short pants.

When you just begin to warm to the idea then the name bartering begins. I say bartering because you are going to grandparent this child with 3 or more people and everyone wants their own unique name. Names get snapped up pretty quick.

So, you begin trying on names, privately, or maybe people at work start putting them on you. “Hey Granny!” “Nana’s in the house!” “Meemaw, want to go to lunch?” Stuff like that.

Your first reaction will be that it just feels weird but you mentally know that one of the names is going to have to fit. So, you begin to see which ones just make your skin crawl and which ones are tolerable. If you’re lucky enough to still have your parents and grandparents some of the names are already taken, so you got slim pickins’.

Some of the names will remind you of somebody’s grandmother who was a crunchy old mean lady, and you don’t want to be associated with her. Still other names give you mental pictures of old Russian nesting dolls or Granny on the “Beverly Hillbillies.” Still others make you think of body functions or body parts like “Peepaw” or “Mammy” or “Mammaw.”

Then The Pressure Comes

Up until now deciding on a name was purely a mental exercise. But pretty quick the kids start holding up the grandchild and saying, “Here’s your _____________.” Or “Say bye-bye to ________________________.” And not long after you have to sign a card or a gift tag and the pressure’s on to choose a name. What will it be?

I really wanted a good name. I wanted something unique. I remember I had a young student once who told me all day that his Honey was coming to lunch. I asked him who it was and he would shrug like he didn’t understand the question and say, “My Honey.” His grandmother came to lunch and I thought that was the sweetest thing. Not to mention that they were really precious together.

My kids kept asking me what I wanted to be called because as good parents they wanted to teach their child to associate me with a name. I just couldn’t think of anything. So, I told my kids that I wanted to be called Stella so when the boys got older and they wanted me for something they could yell, “Stella” just like Marlon Brando in “A Streetcar Named Desire” and I could have a good laugh.


Being the cool kids that they are, they thought it was funny, too, so as of now, for the moment, I’m Stella.

The Downside of Cute Names

When I first found out I was going to be a grandmother and I was getting teased relentlessly at work a wise, sage of a co-worker pulled me aside as if to give me top secret information. I listened carefully as she whispered in my ear, “You’re going to be grandmother to two boys, let me give you some advice. Forget the cute names. If you tell them to call you some cute name, they will in private. BUT they will NEVER call you the cute name in front of their friends or in public. They will refer to you as their grandmother.” That is wisdom from the trenches right there.

The Real Truth

The honest truth though, dear reader, is that I could barter and scrap and demand but I will be called whatever those little boys call me.

Whatever rolls out of their mouths will be fine with me.

I am so in love with them that if they called me “Poopy-head” or “Ancient of Days” I will think it is the greatest name in the world!

Right now, it seems that Gideon gets my attention on FaceTime by saying, “Huh.” I’m good with “Huh.” Manny says “Dada” and if he wants to call me that and call his Dad something else, I’m good. I can’t speak for my son, though.

The Bottom Line

So, the bottom line, right now, dear reader, is that you might be very adamant about not being called a certain grandparent name, but when that grandchild comes, you won’t care anymore. You will only care that they call you.

And that baby will quickly turn 3, 6, 9 and 12 months old before you know it. And just like your own kids seemed to go from “Mommy” to “Mother” (with attitude) overnight, so will the grandchildren. So, our grandparent name will probably evolve as well.

So, to quote The Bard, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” So, instead of stressing about a name, focus on “lovin’ the fillin'” outta those grandkids and whatever they call you will become a term of endearment!







One thought on “Naming the Grandparents

  1. Great advice. In the South there are too many choices. In California where my son-in-law grew up you just got “Grandma” and Grandpa”, no variations.
    I didn’t like the handle “Nana”…not at all. Too common. And I told the kids so. But that’s what my kids kept referring to me as while introducing me to the grandkids. As soon as the first one called me Nana, I was hooked. It was beautiful the way it rolled off that little tongue.
    Now almost 16 years and six grandchildren later, I love it when they call me Nana.
    At least it wasn’t the name of some crunchy, mean old lady I knew growing up.

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