Saturday, August 13, 2011

Get Real, Granny

The New York Times reports that Baby Boomers are rejecting the terms "grandmother" and "grandfather":

“My wife and I were somewhat serious about being called Irene and John,” Mr. Dawson said. “We like our names and that it’s real. Grandpa, Grandma, Granny, Nanna, Gramps, etc., give off a vision of being old."

Now, I don't expect to be a grandmother any time soon, so maybe I shouldn't talk. But this trend annoys me no end. The allergy to aging smacks, to me, of the worst stereotypes about Boomers: vanity, exceptionalism and self-absorption.

Who me? Get older and become a grandpa? Never!

I can't quite detect the harm in cultural honorifics that convey respect, tradition and great affection. And can you imagine a toddler rushing up to hug ... Irene and John?

Those who think they're never going to get old should read "Never Say Die: The Myth and Marketing of the New Old Age," by one of my favorite authors, Susan Jacoby.

When I turned 50 last year, several people offered condolences. I didn't need them. I have several friends who never made it to 50, and a few who never made it to 40 - or even 30.

I was grateful to hit the half-century mark because, when you think about it, what's the alternative?

My parents met and married late in life and by the time I had children, my father was gone and my mother was declining. My husband and I watched enviously as we saw young-ish grandparents spending time with their grandchildren. Not only did our children not get those wonderful relationships, we didn't get the parenting breaks we desperately needed.

Few words, besides Mama and Dada, are more comforting and homey than Nana or Gramma, Gramps or Papa. Other people can stick with Irene or John. I'm looking forward to the day a toddler runs up to hug me and hollers "Grammy!"


  1. Wow. Did these people have their kids call them by their first names too? I look forward to your reading rec, as well as one day being called whatever version of grandma my grandkids choose.

  2. Great post -- somewhere between sexy and nice.

  3. I don't get people, sometimes, except that they are truly self-absorbed, even to the point of their own grandchildren. I'm with you Des.

    Thanks, AH. ;-)

  4. PS--It's not grandchildren that make you old--it's the kids that age you!

  5. Ain't that the truth, Desiree!