oh no, not nanna…

Nanna and me

I’m fighting urges to get a tattoo, shop at Zara and book a backpacker holiday to Asia.

Concurrent to the birth of 47 year old Collette Dinnegan’s second child making SMH news, for the second time this year a high school friend of the same age became a new grandmother, announcing via a Facebook message “Officially a nana”. Of course she isn’t the first of my similarly aged acquaintances to become a grandmother.

Yes, the G.O. has grandkids. I didn’t say my urges to espouse youth were logical. I visualise a stereotypical grandmother, my Nanna, for instance, and just don’t see me.

Maybe that’s where my disconnect lays. Women of my generation aren’t stereotypical, and I grant nor necessarily were my grandmother’s but grandmothers do have a fairy tale image. My counterparts are mums, grandmothers, or like me – childless, and possibly step parents or step grandmothers – but the same vintage.

This brings me to another point. What do the kiddies call step-grandmothers? By association with their Poppy, the G.O.’s grandkids logically initially went with Nanna. Fortunately kids are easily influenced, unlike their parents who are wedded to convention. With only a little counter-education from me, the grandkids now easily refer to me by my first name.

But, it wasn’t all about me. These kids already had a proliferation of multi-generational nanna’s and pop’s referred to by the honorary title plus correlating family surnames. Yet another nanna, and one with a rogue surname (the G.O. & I not being married) was going to create confusion. I also feel that the nanna moniker belongs rightly to the person who did the hard yards of raising the parents.

In the way of kids, the G.O.’s granddaughter, the eldest, took this flexibility and ran with it. What was an appropriate differentiating title for my corresponding Poppy? She & I conferred. We assessed Poppy’s countenance, and swiftly christened him Poppy Hairy, which has been happily embraced by her younger brothers in turn.

I referred to my stepmother’s mother; my siblings’ grandmother, as Nanna S, similar to my mum’s mother and my dad’s grandmother Nanna B, differentiated by their surnames. Even though I never knew her father, my mum’s stepfather I called Uncle Eric.

Dad’s mother and father though are matchlessly simply Nanna & Pa, no distinction necessary. Nanna was not quite 44 when I was born. When I think of the 44 year old me and others I know, I see no parallels with my Nanna.

According to Wiki there are a plethora of grandparental title variations. My family doesn’t do “nana”. To us a ‘nana is a fruit, or we “do our ‘nana” when things go pear shaped. Our nanna’s have 2 n’s and lots of time & love. The terms Nanna and Pa are familial cultural heritage. Both my uncles proudly are called Pa by their grandkids, as I hope my Dad will be.

Last, a cautionary tale. A couple of weeks ago my step-grandfather passed on. My younger sister as is her custom shared the news via Facebook status update referring to Papa, as her grandfather was known by the family. “Papa” with a different inflection, can also be a term for father… but while shaking my head at her need to share family news via Facebook, nothing further occurred to me until I woke at 5.30 am to see a text message from a work friend surprised & upset to learn via that status update, of the passing of my dad. I quickly responded with a clarification but later in the day seeing a long list of comments to the post, rang my other sister who hadn’t seen it but also had received mistaken condolences re Dad.

Worried others had seen the update and arrive well meaning at the church for the funeral and confusingly see Dad well and alive, or send condolence cards, elder sister intervened and suggested an explanatory status update. We haven’t enlightened Dad about his near death experience.

34 thoughts on “oh no, not nanna…

    1. Thank you. Nanny is good, and I love dubdee. My aunt’s husband’s grandkids call him Dose (Dosay) which comes from him always saying to them “no way Jose”….


  1. Oh god, the thought of ever being called Nanna is horrifying. My kids have a ‘Nanny’ and a ‘Cappar’ (that is how little number 1 said grandpa and it just stuck) and a ‘Fossil’ (the Man’s mum).

    Although I am clearly old enough, I still find being called ‘Aunty’ makes me feel even older, I don’t think I would EVER get used to being called nanna. I will have to think of some sort of substitute!


    1. I Love Cappar… and Fossil is magic. Maybe that’s it, I missed the transitional aunty stage… and as I refer to my aunts & uncles by first names, only use the term as to refer to some of their aunts & uncles, it doesn’t have a fit either but I know younger sister who is the most likely… will insist… oh dear.


      1. The funny thing is that pretty much everyone calls her Fossil, even my own mum and dad who are the same age as her!

        I am a not called aunty either, first name basis for me but I still can’t bring myself to call my uncle or aunts by their first names. Do you remember when we were kids, all of our friends parents were Mr. Smith or Mrs. Jones. I get the kids friends to call me by my first name and there isn’t a single parent I know that insists on Mr. or Mrs.
        I wonder why it changed? A more casual approach to authority?


        1. From my childhood there are quite a few non rellies who I was required to address as aunt or uncle, mostly stemming from my stepmother who was quite rigid about societal protocols, but we lived in a small country town where at least 50% of the population was known by a nickname (also frowned upon by SM) so the full on Mr/Mrs would have been locally inappropriate. Note I used “was”… after 3 kids of her own, she has calmed down – slightly! I agree, a more across the board casual approach to authority has emerged, rather than just pockets 🙂


      2. Actually I was thinking about this post the other day. My friend and her family calls their Great grandmother ‘Great’. Not Grandma or Granny or Nan, just Great. I love that and the feeling behind it to, when she is around she certainly is the presiding matriarch 🙂


  2. Glad to hear your dad is still with us! He must not have liked being kicked into an early grave.

    I think when (a long time from now I hope) I am a grandmother, I’d like to be called Nonny. Don’t ask me why.


    1. Thank you. There’s merit in not sharing that sort of info with Dad so we might try to avoid it. Nonny sounds lovely, and when you’ve earned grandmother status a great accomplishment 🙂


  3. Grandma to me conjours up a little old lady sat in a rocking chair knitting.
    I always think nanny or nanna sounds a lot younger than grandma, hense the reason why I’m nanny to my grandson, or nanny Vicky to be exact. T is just plain granddad.
    Reading matan’s reply made me smile………T has called me fossil for many years. 🙂


    1. It’s a matter of degrees and perception I’m coming to see… Nanny Vicky sounds trendy (in the nicest possible way) and Grandma does have a touch of age about it. Fossil though, is the pick of them all…


  4. What a great read, EllaDee! Grandparents of today have little in common with the Grandparents back in the day. It’s all that exercising everybody’s doing. Sometimes I long for the days when one grew old sitting in a comfy recliner watching TV.
    When the first Grandkids were born, they called my Mom “Pookie Nonna” because she had a dog named “Pookie”. The Grandkids of her Sister, my Zia, called her “Cookie Nonna” and you can probably figure that one’s roots on your own. As those kids grew, the names changed to “Grandma”. Today, those kids are grown and are having kids of their won. Though Mom is no longer with us, Zia’s Great-Grandkids call her “Cookie Nonna” once again. Me? I’m Uncle John to them all, regardless of our true relationship. {Well, I do have another moniker but I’d hate to give away a critical detail of a future post. 😉 }


    1. Thank you. Families come up with the best names, and I love that they are recycled through the generations as with the fabulous Pookie Nonna & Cookie Nonna, and that you are a universal Uncle John. I also have a couple of other monikers courtesy of the G.O.. I look forward to your future posts 🙂


  5. Delightfully convoluted and confusing as only modern families can be! Being of the Papa-calling culture (or rather it was Papa’s culture, so of course I fell in step, despite its embarrassingly anachronistic connotations at the time), I’d have responded in the same way to your sister’s Facebook announcement. While I was reading your post i kept thinking there was something vaguely familiar about this scenario – and now I’ve remembered. An episode of The Big C – when Cathy’s friend announces the death of her baby daughter just as Cathy XXXX and everyone assumes it’s Cathy and ‘gatecrash’ the baby’s funeral. Sad and hilarious – your father might find it amusing if seen in this light 😉


    1. Thank you. It may well be if we eventually dress it up right, Dad might see the humour but the plain facts of my younger sister (and although they have great affection for each are are too alike to see eye to eye) sharing such family info clumsily on FB, and the subsequent misunderstanding at his expense, maybe just won’t rate on his amusing-meter… we’ll see.


  6. Oh – your poor dad! I hope he doesn’t find out they thought he was dead!

    My kids call me Mummity – so I guess that’s what I’ll be when I have grand-children! 😀


    1. I hope Dad doesn’t either – he won’t take it well. Mummity… I like, and so will your grand-children 🙂 Unlike my stepmother I think why call something by it’s proper name when you can call it something else? My cats & dog had several other ‘familiar’ names besides their own, and I didn’t make up the G.O.’s name for the purpose of the blog, he’s been called Gorgeous One for quite a while now 🙂


  7. I had a grandma/granny and a nana. As a child it made no difference to me what they were called, and maybe we should all think about that.
    I had the non-rellies aunts and uncles too. Par for the course in those days. I quite liked being an auntie for a Nigerian toddler on the sleeper from Madrid to Paris when her mother wanted to leave the carriage. ‘This yo new auntie, you do what she say,’ said mummy to Dasha. And she did.


    1. I agree, as a kid, people are who and how they are & do, not what they are called. My favourite grandparent tags that have come from this post are where the kids have created the name for themselves… Your ‘new auntie’ anecdote reassures me the kind of world I like to live in still exists from time to time 🙂


  8. It’s weird with all the steps and halfs of the post divorce age. Pickles like this one happen. But it’s really cool that families are so evolved and include such layers. 🙂 Sorry for the FB mess. Your poor dad. 😉


    1. Thank you. Yes, the post divorce age exacerbated the steps & halves and made extended families more of a norm. My younger (half) sister does an entertaining and fantastic job of connect the family relationship dots if you give her half a chance… Dad will be fine, as ever, if we keep him in the dark 😉


  9. Grandmothers today are not as old fashion as they used to be… however, names like nanna and granny, do sound old…
    My grandkids call me ‘Bestemor’ its the Norwegian word for grandmother and it means, ‘the best mother’. I like that.
    And your poor dad… Once a rumor gets started on Facebook, there is no stopping it..


    1. I like ‘Bestemor’ and the honour it conveys. Far better than one of the G.O. great-grandmothers, who was called literally ‘Old Mummy’… Ah yes, Facebook, good when it’s good but when it’s bad….


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