One of the big decisions I had to make recently was whether I want to be called Grandma or Nanna – or any other variation such as Nanny, Nan, Gran or even Grandmama!
Yes, I have just become a grandmother! While it’s not a life-changing decision, it made me think about why there isn’t just one name for a grandmother. And the answer is obvious – we have to differentiate between two grandmothers, if we are lucky enough to still have them both.
Asking around, I discovered that we tend to be influenced by our own past family patterns. If we were close to a favourite grandmother, we are happy to be called by her title. The same goes, of course, for grandfathers, who may be called Grandad, Grandpa, Pop, Poppy, Pa, Pappy or Gramps.
Some cultures have separate titles for a mother’s father and a father’s father. In Pakistan, maternal grandparents are called Nana and Nani and paternal grandparents are called Dada and Dadi.
In Swedish, there is no single word for grandmother – mother’s mother is Mormor and father’s mother is Farmor. I love the sound of some exotic titles – like the Philippines’ grandparents, Lolo (grandfather) and Lola (grandmother), or the Italian Nonno and Nonna. German and Dutch grandparents are called Opa and Oma and Russians have the dramatic-sounding Dadushka and Babushka.
Nana has given us the term ‘nana nap’ meaning a short sleep and from Granny we have a ‘granny flat’, ‘a granny knot’ and even ‘granny glasses’ – round steel-rimmed spectacles which were once worn by elderly ladies.
In the end, a grandparent is called by whatever the grandchild chooses – in my family there’s a Bampa (grandfather) and Gamma (grandmother) – names which are still used by the now-adult grandchildren.
As a new grandmother, I’m thrilled to be joining the ranks of Grannydom and if any of you puzzlers are grandparents, I’d love to hear your thoughts on grandparenthood.