A bubbe by any other name


by Marjorie Norris Krevor
WJW intern

Being a baby boomer, I am at the age where my children are grown or married. In fact, as I write this, I am eagerly anticipating the birth of my first grandchild, a girl, in July. Yes, I am going to be a grandmother! But, I don’t feel like a grandmother. Grandmothers have gray hair tied back in a tight bun. They sit in rocking chairs on the front porch wearing frumpy clothes and knit. Everyone calls them names like bubbe, or grandma or nanny.

At least, that’s what I think of when I think of the word “grandmother.” This is so not me. I have no idea how to knit. I’m too busy playing tennis, working out with a personal trainer, and going to jazz concerts, to learn to knit. I don’t dress in a frumpy style (unless wearing Jimmy Choo shoes, Paige jeans, and Anne Fontaine shirts is frumpy). And I cringe when I think of my new little grandbaby calling me bubbe or grandma.

I may be almost 60, but I read in a magazine — while getting my hair highlighted — that 60 is the new 40. So, I am on a quest for the right grandmother name that will not conjure up pictures of a prune-faced, fuzzy-haired crone. And I have only two months left to find it!


Thank goodness for Google. It seems I am not alone in my search for the perfect baby boomer grandmother name. The Internet has tons of websites devoted to just this subject. There are sites that simply list names, sites that generate names and sites with quizzes that suggest names tailored to your answers.

Just type “names for grandparents,” in the search bar, and suddenly you’ll see hundreds of choices including traditional, ethnic and trendy names. Traditional names include grandmamma, mom-mom, grandma, grammy or nanny. Names that reflect ethnicity include bubbe (Yiddish), savta (Hebrew), ya-ya (Greek), oma (German), or nonna (Italian). Trendy names ran the gamut from coco, foxy, cici, sugar, faux-ma, othermother, momette and grammipoo. Try clicking on Banannananna.com for an extensive, organized list.

Ask.com has a quiz you can take to find out whether you are a glam-ma because you’d rather take your granddaughter to the spa for a manicure and pedicure than camping. Or you might be a gransport because you’d prefer to take your grandchild to a Caps or a Nats game than shopping.

Baby boomers can also check out what celebrities are called by their grandkids. Blythe Danner is lalo, which daughter Gwyneth Paltrow says shows how her mom is a hot grandma. Goldie Hawn is glam-ma. Maybe she took the internet quiz too. Joan Rivers joked to grandson, Cooper that he should call her nana new face, but she answers to grammy. Martha Stewart’s grandkids simply call her Martha.

You can also read a book on the subject of choosing hip grandparent names. You Can Call Me Hoppa, by Lauren Charpio, is a compilation of dozens of stories of how grandparents got their names and provides hundreds of names from across the country.

The Internet is filled with wonderful stories of how folks got their unique grandparent names. One grandmother calls herself choo–choo-ma because she comes to visit on a train. Another wanted to be called granny Annie, but what came out was yannie-yannie and it stuck. My Uncle Myles is called poppy-seed, because he called his grand-daughter, Zara, “peanut.” She didn’t like being compared to such a small thing, so she called him poppy-seed, because it’s smaller than a peanut. I’m sure our readers have similar stories to share. We’d love to hear them.

So fellow boomers, whatever hip name you choose for yourself, don’t get too attached to it. As your little grandchild grows and begins to talk, she will undoubtedly give you the perfect name that is special only to you. I can’t wait for mine.


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  1. My grandma name was given to me by my baby grand daughter who is 13 now. I am a forever “Share~ma”.????


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