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WHAT WILL WE NAME THE GRANDMOTHER?
From the day they tell you the home pregnancy test was positive until the day they tell you the baby is here, you will be allowed to consider the single most complex naming problem you are permitted to solve: what will the new baby call you.
Never mind that the new baby will not call you anything for quite a while. Never mind that even when the baby does talk, the name will be garbled. Still you have to decide what Baby will call you.
It is wise to remember immediately that you will not be asked what to name the baby. Instead the children will ask what you will name yourself for Baby.
You will remind the children that you did not have to rename yourself when they were born. But your children are not listening.
My friend Marianne, my first grandmother contemporary, is called Nana. In our family that name was taken; my mother is Nana, and one Nana is the family limit.
So, faced with the choice of Grandmother or Grandma, I became Grandma. And because I am one of those grandmas whose last name isn't the same as the children's, life was made simple by naming me Grandma Lois. It does offer a kind of permanence that last names no longer do.
Firstborn Stephanie once shortened my name to Mama Lolo, which I like, but her mother (sensing a lack of respect, I guess) moved it back to Grandma Lois.
My grandson Max calls me Mama because he calls his mother Mimi-names he has established by taking the last syllable of Mommy and repeating it for his mom and the last syllable of Grandma and doubling that.
One woman who shuddered perceptibly at the very words grandma or grandmother has decided tobe called Mom's mom. Still another, a midwesterner, is known as Chicago Mommy. An auburn-haired granny is differentiated from the children's other grandmother by the title The Red Grandmother.
My friend Annelle was supposed to be called Grandmama by her English grandson, but his first words to her were "Amama" -now her family name.
My very favorite naming story is about Ed and Ethel, who were called the Jewish names "Zaide" and "Bubbie" by their grandson Josh.
When Josh went to nursery school, he talked continually about his zaide and bubbie. He told of adventures with them, and when show and tell day came, he announced that he would bring in his bubbie and zaide.
When he walked in with Ed and Ethel, his nursery school teacher said, "Who are these people?"
"Bubbie and Zaide," he said proudly.
"But . . . but," she stammered, "I thought they were gerbils."
Copyright ) 1989 by Lois Wyse