Wielding Power

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?

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8 thoughts on “Wielding Power

  1. Will can call me anything he wants – but just remember, the Pats tickets are in my name. Tread carefully, or all the games you watch will be on TV. But you might see me and Will…

  2. My father chose to be called pop pop for much the same reasons as your mother has. My mother didn’t care what my kids called her as long as she got to hug, snuggle and spoil them nigh on to death.

  3. I am so mad at myself!! It never occurred to me that WE could chose…I asked them what they wanted and that’s what we went with! What a wasted opportunity!!!

  4. My parents went with Mimi and Grampy. My dad couldn’t have cared less, but it took my mom awhile to get used to it. Now the kids call her the Meemster and it cracks her up!

  5. First off I noticed your “current poll” Slow Down or you will give MJ an anxiety attack neither of you will recover from. In case you are wondering I found it great, it actually forced us to me more organized and scheduled AND there just isn’t anything better than seeing two of your children playing and loving each other!!!!

    My parents are MiMi and Grampy. This was determined by their first grandchild and has stuck for all subsequent ones. Ray’s parents are Lala and Abuelo (uelo for short) Abuela is spanish for Grandmother and Lily couldn’t say it right and has always called her Lala. She could say uelo( way-low) just fine. So there you have it.

  6. How about Mam, that’s what my grandmothers are called. One loves it and one hates it. Most women don’t like to be called Man, makes them feel older.

  7. Will will call them whatever he can get out that sounds like English…

    My mother in law said the same thing “can he call me Aunie?” which is what all her nieces and nephews call her…so we said “we’ll see”.

    When he was about 1.5 she started calling him her “Pookie” which was funny and cute…then he started calling her “Pookie” and now it’s stuck…so we have Pookie and Pepe, And Nana, turned into “Nona” and my stepfather wanted to be “Grumpa” and he turned into “Bunka”. Which is still cute.

    So…just go with whatever Will says, besides who will they argue with…Will?????

  8. SO V3 has three sets of Granparents and three living Great-Gandparents. All were named prior to his arrival so I didn’t have any of this power you mention… Ok Grandmothers: Gramma Pat, Mimi, and Grahms. Grandfather’s: Papa, Granddaddy, and Grampa Butch. Mimi and Grahms because thats how the kids pronouced it. Gramma Pat and Grampa Butch for clarification. Granddaddy is a southern thing. And Papa because my father wanted to be an Irish Papa. His Great grandparents are Grandma and Granddaddy Beaver, their last name included for respect as well as clarification even after the other grandparents passed. And Grammy (nothern grandchildren)or Granny(southerners again). Even well into her seventies Grammy still doesn’t like the way it sounds!!! She has told me more than once that Granfathers had much better names and grandmothers were stuck with blah names making them sound old and useless. She is so wonderfully honest!

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