My son texted me last night and said, “We have some really big news.”
This is life; we are born and given a name without our approval, then we fall in love and marry, have children, who then leave and have their own children, and only then are we empowered to rename ourselves.
This is our chance to correct all the misconceptions of the past. I love the idea of second chances. Especially if your last name is Light and your parents named you Bud…you want a do over.
And this is a universal truth across generations. We want a name that highlights our better angels. I remember this about my Grandma Davis who typically cared very little about image and names. But there was one name we didn’t dare call her…granny.
This made for a perfect dare, and my sister prodded me to test the limits one day. I took the dare and called her granny. She hit me over the head with a rolled up Saturday Evening Post. She thought it made her sound old. I thought she was.
But like Dylan singing My Back Pages, “aah but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now,” she must have thought the same thing that my generation thinks…we are younger than that now.
Our age defiance runs deep beginning with simple denial, to the subtle art of requiring our grandchildren to summon us with hip and youthful grand names.
Besides, if we are not naming ourselves, someone will. And it might sound not only old, but strange, for there is danger in allowing a toddler to name grandparents. The danger is that the name will stick like a sharpened #2 pencil thrown into an acoustic ceiling by a rowdy student, requiring a janitor with a ladder to make it go away. Otherwise, it will just hang there forever.
By virtue of the birthright bestowed upon the first grandchild, my daughter had the naming rights to her paternal grandparents. She named them Tampoop and Nammy. One stuck and the other, well, we had to get a ladder and remove it.
But why settle for the prosaic grandfather and grandmother?
The possibilities are endless. I’m thinking about Ace Umpa or Poppa Tart…or something Ukrainian that a baby can easily pronounce. Why not Baba & Gigi?
And the Greeks have wonderfully lyrical grand names…Yaya & Pappoús.
Karen asked me recently what I wanted to be called by a babbling grand. Perhaps I’ll be Bubs. Karen is leaning toward Keke.
And so it will be until the first grandchild changes it to Butts and Kaka. Maybe the old days of grandma and grandpa weren’t so bad after all, but just in case, I’m keeping that ladder handy.
Oh yes, the big news from my son and daughter-in-law. They are parents. We now have our third grand pet, Inola, a tiny furry bundle of Border Collie. I hope she calls me Bubs.