This post also appeared on www.capecodonline.com/blogs in the opinion section of the Cape Cod Times, a division of Ottaway Newspapers, Inc.
I’m learning that with parenthood comes significant power.
Sure parents have the power to raise a child, teach right from wrong and basically determine whether or not the kid is going to grow up to be a functioning, well-adjusted member of society. But that’s not what I’m talking about here. When you become a parent, you have newfound power over your own parents! All of a sudden the people who raised you and made you follow the rules aren’t making them anymore…you are! Most notably, you pretty much determine what their nicknames will be for the rest of their lives. Grandma, grandpa, papa, grampy, granny, grams, grandpop…the choices are endless. But in my parents’ case, it’s a little more complicated.
For instance, when I asked my mom what she wanted Will to call her when he was old enough to talk, her response was priceless. “Auntie Cyn,” she said with a perfectly straight face. You see my mom had a little trouble adjusting to the fact that she was actually old enough to be a grandmother. She still cringes when I call her grandma too, which just makes me do it more. She tells people she’s not a grandmother, she’s simply a mother whose son had a child. As if that’s fooling anyone. And while she doesn’t know what she wants to be called yet, she’s pretty much ruled out everything else. Grandma, Granny, Gram, Nana…all of those make her sound “too old.” But she has to be called something. And MJ’s mom wants to be called “grandma,” so what do I call my mom to avoid confusion?
My parents faced the same dilemma when I was born and grew old enough to talk. Both of my grandmothers wanted to be called “grandma” and neither was willing to accept anything less. So my father put his foot down and made an executive decision. One would be “Grandma Goo-Goo” and the other “Grandma Ga-Ga.” One of my grandfathers had to be “Grandpa Choo-Choo” because he was a train fanatic. And it stuck. Even into our teenage years, my brother and I referred to them this way. They both hated it with the white hot passion of 1,000 burning suns, and my father was so proud of himself. He still brags about it to this day.
But now the shoe is on the other foot. Now MJ and I get to decide how our child will address them from here on out. I’m thinking maybe we call my father “pappy.” I’m sure he’s not fond of that. Or we could have Will call him “Grandpa Baldy.” I like the sound of that. And when it comes to my mom, I’m just not sure I can resist having Will call her “Granny.” That was the name of her grandmother and I’m pretty sure that would drive her nuts in two seconds flat. Or maybe something like “Grandmumsy.” That’s pretty annoying.
It may seem mean but fair’s fair. They tortured their parents with absurd names and now I feel I should carry on the family tradition. My father has already threatened with me an endless supply of drumsets on every one of Will’s gift-giving occasions, but that’s a chance I’m willing to take.
So what does your little one call his grandparents?