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More than naming the baby
Sunday, April 15, 2012
By HOLLY KOZELSKY - Bulletin Accent Editor
It’s hard to pick a name for a pet, and even harder for a baby.
Could picking your own be the most difficult of all?
When you become a parent, you have to chose between “Mama” or “Mom” and their few variations. That’s a mere appetizer for the challenging main dish of choosing, when the time comes, your grandparent name.
A lot of factors go into choosing the grandparent name: what you want to be called, what the parents want you to be called, which names already are taken by the other grandparents, and what the baby ends up able to pronounce once he or she starts talking.
That last method is how one man, as sophisticated city-slicker as you can get, went from the “Grandpa” of his own choosing, when the baby was born, to the laid-back, countrified “Paw-Paw” once she learned how to talk. He didn’t seem to care, though — he just was happy to have his first grandchild at his knee, 40 years after he became a father.
Sometimes changes come from the grandparents, such as the woman who originally decided to be called Nana. A while into that, she thought she’d prefer Grammy. Remembering that change was easier on the baby, who didn’t know how to talk yet, than the rest of the family.
However, there was something Nana/Grammy didn’t count on ... how easily “Grammy” morphs into “Granny.” “Grammy,” apparently, is a fine-sounding name, whereas “Granny” makes the bearer sound old.
In trying to escape “Granny,” perhaps, she started calling herself “Grandma.” Maybe because she forgot that her husband is called “Gramps,” she occasionally called him “Grandpa.” Their granddaughter, who just started talking, makes sure to correct Grammy whenever the mistake is made.
“He’s not PawPaw,” she says. “PawPaw is in his house. This is Gramps.”
The “old-”issue on names is a biggie. When Kim was a vibrant and attractive 34-year-old, she became a grandmother. She looked nothing like a grandmother, and did not have the lifestyle of one; the grandchild was the son of the step-daughter she had raised.
“Me-Maw!” Kim wailed. “They want me to be called Me-Maw!” She felt she had another four or five decades before being warranted that name.
Luckily, after protracted negotiations, her family agreed on using “Mimi Kim.”
Young women turning into grandmothers before they get their first gray hair, and active senior citizens who go to exercise classes and hold high-powered careers instead of bake cookies, sure shake things up when it comes to the images that surround grandparent names.
Add into that the consideration that in this world of step-parents who turn into step-grandparents, in many families the grandparents outnumber grandchildren — opposite the way it used to be.
No wonder it’s such a struggle to come up with the monikers.