In the wake of Joanie’s first meeting with her paternal grandparents and the birthday of my own grandma, I reflect again on the role of grandparents. When I was pregnant there was a lot of discussion about the names we would use to address each grandparent. Eric’s parents already have a grandson so their names were chosen: Nana and Gramps. My parents had yet to decide. I’ve always referred to my father as Pops. The natural progression from there is Pop Pop, but since that’s the name of the selfish buffoon of a grandpa on Arrested Development we settled on Poppy. My mom was more torn over the issue. She wanted a name that both acknowledged her role as grandmother but didn’t make her sound old. We settled on Grannie because of its regular appearance in fairy tales, though I’m not sure how it reflects her age.
Just as there are different styles of parenting, grandparenthood differs as well. Consider my own grandparents and their wonderful influence. My paternal grandpa Pama, a name of which the origin is a mystery, taught me that every thing has a use. He constructed from garbage tables, boats and even a surf board type contraption complete with a deck chair, sail and pontoon. My Grandma Nina, with whom I have always been close, is a pillar of warmth and companionship. When I was small enough she perched me on the back of her kayak and rowed around the lake. Sometimes I’d slide off on purpose just so she would tug on the collar of my life jacket and save me. Grandpa Bob once grabbed a book of poetry from my mother’s grasp because she was “not reading it with enough conviction,” and proceeded to read it with his rich British accent, the likes of which David Attenborough could never compete.
Motherhood is really really hard. Aside from all the practical stuff, diapers, breastfeeding, finding tiny socks stuck to the inside of the drier, I am constantly concerned about the less tangible aspects of parenting. Is she understanding what is said when the T.V is on? Will she remember all the times I cursed around her? Does the macabre song about the Titanic effect her notions of class and engineering hubris? It’s all a little much to deal with, but if Joanie’s grandparents are anything like mine, they’ll be a huge help.