Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Grandma Name

Several people have asked me what my grandchild will call me. My sister-in-law said, "Have you chosen your Grandma name yet?" ( I believe her grandchildren call her Momo) This seems to be quite a big thing ("it's very important" one person wrote). I must be out of the loop because I didn't realize that this was part of being a grandmother.

I am pretty boring and traditional about such things. I imagine I will be called Grandma. Or if Sofia comes up with some sweet and charming version of that or her own name for me, then that will be it. I will, however, discourage Granny as it carries too many toothless hag connotations for me. Grammy, on the other hand, has no such baggage and works fine in my book. Don't ask me why there's a difference. There just is.

Both of my grandmothers were called Grandma. My children called both of their grandmothers Grandma. My great grandmother was called Bam which was the short version of Bamma which one of her grandchildren said instead of Grandma. Once we visited her in the tiny Colorado town where she lived and I was amused to find that the mailman and the clerk at the grocery store and friends at the Methodist Church also called her Bam.

I understand that sometimes these names are invented to differentiate between multiple generations of still living grandmothers, as well as the multiples that happen when people divorce and remarry. We have no such complications. In fact I will be the only one called Grandma and Ray the only Grandpa. Sofia's other grandparents live in Ecuador and speak Spanish and will therefore be Abuela and Abuelo. Emily and Cayo intend for Sofia to be bilingual.

So, there you go. Grandma. I guess I have chosen.


  1. Anonymous3:10 AM

    Lucky grandparents don't get to choose - my son (then aged 13 months) named my Dad "Barkees". He would NOT be dissuaded from this name, so 17 yrs later ALL of Dad's grandchildren call him Barkees. We still don't know how Clancy came up with the name. He wasn't trying to say something else, as far as we could tell. He was a very early talker who never mispronounced a word, even at that age. I wonder what Sofia will choose for you?

  2. Anonymous3:18 AM

    I had 3 Gramas, one Grandpa and one Grandad. The Gramas had to be qualified by their actual names or nicknames. My mom wanted to be part of this tradition, so she chose "Grama Sher" to be her name. Ends up she didn't need the qualifier as my MIL wanted to be "Nonnie" since the spunky Italian grandmother who lived across her street was called that. My FIL wanted the french name his grandfather used. I suggested my dad be called "Opa" as I wanted at least one granparent to use a German name. He loves it because it doesn't have all those toothless connotations, and it's super easy for little kids to say. Both my kids said Opa long before Grama, Grandpa, Nonnie, or Pepére. BTW, the female version is "Oma" or "Omi."

  3. The best laid plans.... my dad was supposed to be called Grandpa, but for some reason 18month old K called him Poppie, and he has been that to all of us ever since, little Ethan also calls him that.
    We look forward with bated breath to see what name evolves for you! At the moment, the best Ethan manages for Max and I is Gapaw and Gawwy !! Hope they evolve a bit further!

  4. My daughter and husband, both blond, also want their child to be bilingual, as the husband had taken many trips to central America. So we are Abuela and Abuela. Well, the little one changed that to Beya Beya and Bebo.

  5. Anonymous6:20 AM

    I've heard some dreadful grandparent names that the kids chose ("Gone-ghee" comes to mind), so if you don't choose one you like you may end up with something you don't. My DGD learned my name at a very early age. She knew exactly who Mam was long before she said it herself. The other grandmother let DGD choose, and while she ended up Mimi, it was a long time before DGD actually called her by name.There's a saying "when a baby is born, a grandmother is too." It's part of your new identity, Grandma!

  6. I'm Gramma but my Japanese grandchildren call their othere grandparents Baba and Gigi which are the Japanese words. It's so interesting to learn the words in other languages.

  7. And, a fine "Grandma" you will be.

  8. Anonymous2:13 PM

    I have the same boring story, except that I am Gramma Gerrie and the paternal grandmother is Gramma Jane. The paternal grandfather, is, however, Grandpops and Steve is Grampa. Steve is very German and his grandparents were Oma and Opa.

    Are they at home yet?

  9. My grandmother (I only had one) was Granny, so I have nothing but positive associations with that. When my mother (finally!) got to be a grandmother, she was Oma, which was perfect since she was, herself, German. My good friend Sondra is "Gammy," which I sort of like, and Victor, her husband, was "Gampa" or "Gamps." Unless my husband's daughter and her partner decide to adopt a child, I guess I'll go through life without a grandmother name. Ah well.

  10. Anonymous6:45 PM

    Well, my daughter couldn't say "grandpa" so my dad became "Bapa" instead, forever! But, we are now grandparents and so my husband is Grandpa Russ and I am Nana, the step-grandma. One bio-grandma likes being called Gigi and the other bio-grandma and the other is Gramms.
    Have fun watching what appellation becomes your very own!
    Love, Janna B.