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Parenting Perspectives: Grandmas unite - take pride in title

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. So wrote the Bard of Avon. And a grandmother by any other name would be as loving. So what's the deal with people avoiding that title? Time magazine last month noted the new term in the lexicon: "gla...

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. So wrote the Bard of Avon.

And a grandmother by any other name would be as loving.

So what's the deal with people avoiding that title?

Time magazine last month noted the new term in the lexicon: "glamma -glamorous grandma; one of the terms adopted by boomer grandparents" instead of more traditional names such as grandmother.

Now glamorous and I have never, ever been on speaking terms, so I really can't identify with that preference.

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I suppose the term "grandma" does conjure up the mental picture of a little, old, white-haired woman wearing an apron and hauling around a fabric bag containing her knitting supplies.

And I have to admit that does describe my maternal grandmother who lived with us when I was growing up - except her bag contained crocheting materials.

But she was a savvy, independent woman who traveled alone into her 80s.

It doesn't describe me - not yet anyway. And the only part that would fit in the future would be old and white-haired (that is if I forgo my already-not-my-natural color). I don't own an apron, and I don't do needlework.

According to the AARP, the average age of a first-time grandparent is 48. OK, I suppose that puts things in a different light. Many grandparents are years from retirement. They're hipper and more athletic - and more glamorous - these days, but I'm not sure that requires them to be called something other than what they are. It is what it is: Your offspring now have offspring.

We often read about celebrities who are opposed to being called "grandma."

The most recent one I read about was Priscilla Presley in a magazine article about her new twin grandbabies. But this isn't Priscilla's first time around the bassinette. She has teenage grandchildren, so you'd think she'd be used to the idea by now. I wonder what Elvis would have wanted to be called? King Gramps, maybe?

A trip to the Internet led to this list of grandmother alternatives: granny, grandmamma, grandmums, gran, nana, banma, gannie, GM, gmum, gram, grammy, grand (your first name), grandee, grandmama, grandmamere, grand-mere, grandmom, grandmum, grandone, grandmamma, mimi, mamum, mermere, mummun, nanny, ninna, oma and yaya. Yaya?

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Any of those make you feel younger?

Nana seems to be the one that appeals to a lot of folks. I'm sorry, that makes me think of the nursemaid dog in "Peter Pan."

Some titles, I suspect, survive the mangled pronunciations of toddlers just learning to talk. The character John Carter on TV's "ER" always referred to his grandmother as "Gamma."

My nieces referred to my grandmother - their great-grandmother - as "Grandma Big Bole." (Bole was her last name).

My older grandson originally referred to me as "Mum," which made me feel rather British.

That didn't last, however, and he and his brother refer to me as Grandma Kathy, to differentiate me from their paternal grandmother.

And I have no issue with that. I am a grandmother, and I wholeheartedly delight in the fact.

Just don't call me granny.

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Kathy Tofflemire is a copy editor at The Forum. Readers can reach her at (701) 241-5514 or ktofflemire@forumcom.com

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