According to this article in the Wall Street Journal, the latest thing boomers have to worry about is what their grandchildren will call them. Grandpa and Grandma just won't do. And you can just forget about Granny and Gramps. These names may have been OK for the Silent Generation, but boomers are anything but silent about how they abhor names that make them feel old.
Some boomers object to old-fashioned names simply because they conjure up a stereotype. Let's face it, when you hear someone call for "Gramps," you probably aren't thinking of a motorcycle-riding vegetarian who still plays baseball on the company team. And yet that's exactly the image many boomer grandfathers would like to have. In fact, one man in the article was quoted as saying he wanted to be called "Grand-dude."
I'm not a grandmother yet, although I have a twin who will soon be a grandmother for the fourth time. She became a grandmother at 47, which happens to be the average age of first-time boomer grandparents. When we were very young, I called her K-K (her given name is Marikaye) and I had thought maybe she would revive that. But, she's Nana and seems to like it.
Many boomer grandparents see their grandchildren as friends. They travel together, visit one another often and even communicate through social networking sites like Facebook. So, it only stands to reason these boomers would reject traditional names - there's little that's traditional about their relationship with their grandchildren. Add in the fact that many children now have at least four grandparents (often more, depending on divorces, remarriages and unconventional relationships).
Ten years ago, it was a liberated author who taught our kids that "Heather Has Two Mommies," so it was only a matter of time before kids like Heather would need new terms of endearment for multiple grandparents who came in all kinds of flavors.
It would be tempting to assume that the whole name game is a consequence of boomers refusing to acknowledge their aging. But the truth is we've redefined everything from our jobs to our communities to the way we retire. Why shouldn't we redefine the way we see ourselves in one of the most important roles we'll ever have? I say "go for it."
I still remember my own grandmother deciding upon the birth of her first great-grandchild, that she would NOT be called great anything. Never mind that she was in her late 70's - she felt much younger and thought being called a great-grandmother was tantamount to putting up a billboard announcing she had one foot in the grave. She was known to her 12 grandchildren as Grandma Mary. So we coined a name for our children to call her: GrandMary. It worked for everyone!
Ralph and I are years away from becoming grandparents (though we do have a grand-puppy) and we sometimes tease about what we'll be called. In fact, Friday night we talked about it because we had both read the WSJ article that day. I'm thinking I'll go for the straightforward and fun "Boomer" as my name. I've dubbed him GrandBubba.