My sixth grandchild and fourth granddaughter was born the other day. In honor of this I'm posting a column I wrote back when I was about to be a grandmother for the first time. Let me say first, that I have no idea how I got here so quickly since I was a teenager only yesterday.
For some people six grandchildren is a lot. For me, because I have seven children and these six kids come from only two of those kids, this is only the beginning. Fortunately for my children, there is no pressure to make me a grandmother. However there is pressure to make lots of money so they can take care of me in my old age so I'm not eating food out of dumpsters and living in a cardboard box, although that might be an adventure. On the other hand, they could just pass me around like a hot potato hoping they won't get caught when the music stops.
And now that I've rambled like all good old people do, I present you with "They Need a Grandma Naming Book."
As I write this I’m waiting for news that I’m about to be a grandmother.
Months ago when we first found out, the subject of what to call me came up.
“How about Grandma,” my pregnant 22 year old daughter suggested.
“That’s my mother’s name,” I replied. “Besides, I’m not old enough to be a grandma. I’m only 29.”
“Mom, you’re old enough to know what a Bay City Roller is. You have a record collection. You lived in an age before microwave ovens, DVD’s and personal computers. You didn’t even have VCR’s when you were a kid. You had to wait once a year to watch the Wizard of Oz. Mail and milk were delivered to your door. You remember when Michael Jackson had a real face. A world wide web was something that a giant spider created and the internet was another word for sex. By the way, you need to color your hair. Your gray is showing.”
“Well,” I said, “I called my adopted Swedish Grandmother, Kuemitati. I think it’s Swedish or Martian for Grandmother. Only she was such a good cook that we ended up calling her Cookie Tati.”
“Mom, you’re not that great a cook. And the last time you baked cookies was in 1986.”
“I baked cookies just the other day!”
“No, the Pillsbury Dough Boy baked cookies. You were just the first one to grab them out of the oven and eat them.”
I brought up the subject to my younger children.
“Hey, what about calling you, Granny?” someone suggested.
I instantly had visions of a hillbilly running around a mansion trying to catch a kangaroo because she thought it was a giant jack rabbit and would make wonderful stew.
“I know!” someone else said, “What about Granny Annie!”
I screamed. Not only were they suggesting that I be called Granny, but to use the hated nickname Annie on top of it!
But then, I got a picture of a really cool grandma who surfboards, goes on wild jungle expeditions and flies to the moon but sends her grandchildren postcards that simply say, “the weather is warm in Tahiti, having a wonderful time.”
“Hey,” I suddenly brightened at this image. “I like that. I think I’m going to write a series of picture books about Granny Annie,” and then I told them my idea.
“Yeah,” said my son, “and she has a talking parrot named Boomer Ang.”
And so it was settled, I would be called Granny Annie, because Granny Annie was cool and could do anything.
When my daughter heard she said firmly, “No one is calling you Granny Annie. You didn’t like the name Grandma because you thought it was too old. How is Granny better?”
“I’m embracing my inner Granny,” I said. “Besides, according to you I’m completely believable as Grandma, but if I’m called Granny, no one will believe it. It’s like calling a big guy, Tiny, or a stupid guy, Einstein.”
She sighed. “Why don’t we go with Nana.”
“Nana! All my life I’ve been saddled with jokers who like to call me Anna Banana and then howl with laughter as if they were the first ones to come up with it. Now you want them to call me Nana Anna Banana?”
“Granny Annie is better than Nana Anna?”
“Yeah. Nana Anna sits in a rocker all day and knits. Granny Annie plays in a rock band in Atlantis.”
“Mom, you knit.”
“Yeah, but I really want to play in a rock band in Atlantis.”
“You can’t swim. You can’t play an instrument, and you can’t sing.”
“Since when do rockers have to be able to sing? The point is, Granny Annie goes to exotic locals.”
“Mom, the closest you’ve been to an exotic local is in the supermarket picking out a pineapple and squeezing the avocadoes.”
“Exactly! Granny Annie can actually travel to distant places and eat bananas. Nana Anna can’t.”
“Why can’t Nana Anna eat bananas?”
“Are you serious? You’re gonna have Nana Anna eat a banana? She’d never live it down. She’d become a tongue twister. Nana Anna from Texarkana with a big fat fanna ate a banana in a cabana in Panama.”
“I don’t know what’s more disturbing,” my daughter said. “The idea that you came up with that from the top of your head, or the idea that you spend your time making it up.”
Besides, what’s wrong with just calling you Grandma?”
“What if your mother-in-law, my mother, and I are all in a room together and the baby calls out “Grandma?” She’ll have three scary women descend on her at the same time. It could cause a psychotic breakdown. Do you want that to happen? And won’t she be confused when two of those grandmas are old and one looks like she’s just out of college? Cause, you know people tell me I look younger than I am, and you know you’re mother-in- law is old enough to be my mother.”
“Mom, she’s not even born yet, can we talk about this later? I’m having a contraction.”
And so we wait. We know what my grandchild is and what her name is. We’re waiting to find out what I am and what my name is.