Guest blogger Papa Gino (aka my Dad) comes to terms with his grandfatherly moniker.
What’s in a name? When the Bard asked that immortal question, I’ll bet he wasn’t thinking about the existential angst that the name “Granddad” invokes in the Baby Boomer male!
As a fairly recent inductee to the ranks of grandfather-hood, not exactly kicking-and-screaming but not with Zen-like resignation either, I’ve contemplated the proper appellation for the contemporary sixty-something Boomer.
Now the name “Grand Father” does have a certain gravitas and dignity, particularly if you pause between the two words. But the name “Granddad” will forever conjure up that image from the 1970s of Clive Dunn (remember Corporal Jones from Dad’s Army?) sitting in his rocker surrounded by adoring, but ever-so-slightly patronising children.
It would be nice to think that future generations might give you a thought now and again, but “Granddad, granddad, you’re lovely” isn’t what I had in mind. Clive looks and sounds like he’s in an advanced state of Alzheimer’s!! This is an image of sheer horror for the over-60s Boomer, only made worse by the fact that Clive had just turned 51 when that record was made!!
Boomers may have reinvented ageing, so they say, but can they reinvent the language to accompany it?
Dramatic social changes in the structure of modern families have only increased the complexity. Blended families often contain multiple grandparents and some of them will not be blood relatives. Boomer egotism and drive for individuality demands separate names for everyone and perhaps even different rankings of grandparents.
There’s no shortage of choice on the Internet but do you opt for a serious name, a fun name or something trendy that might not stand the test of time? (Right enough, time is the last thing Boomers need to worry about. But that’s another matter!)
In my own case, my delightful daughter (aka Muvva) bestowed upon me the name Papa Gino, acknowledging my penchant for Italianate man-bags.
I’m also amused by fun suggestions like Papster, Bebop, and G-daddy, but Big Daddy just brings back memories of Burl Ives in Cat On A Hot Tin Roof whereas I’d prefer to look like a 30 year old Paul Newman.
Now you could let the baby take the lead and just modify the first name that she uses. But this is unpredictable and could lead to unfortunate consequences like “poo-poo” or, perish the thought, even worse, “gramps”!!
I just can’t relate to trendy names like Grandude, Mellowman, or G-Man; there’s just no dignity in any of that.
And what about Dexter? What baby wants to call their granddad Dexter? (Apparently a popular name according to the Interwebs.)
I don’t want my granddaughter knowing anything about blood spatter patterns until she’s at least five!!
These names must be American, always in the vanguard when it comes to ageing, and the delusionary states of denial that trail in its wake.
Going back to the original question, Shakespeare usually provides an answer to his great existential questions, and I think he’s spot on when Juliette replies to her own question with: “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”.
It’s the qualities that count, not the name.
Forget the name and just get on with being the best “G-Something” you can be.