Grandma name drama: Who knew?

My cousin is doing well, thank you very much.

She survived a life milestone that I had no idea was supposed to be so challenging.

And yet, as it often is with life passages, things like puberty, parenthood or gray hair, we learn from those who bravely go before us.

My cousin has picked her grandmother name.

As my mom’s first cousin, she’s actually kind of late to the grandparent game. Her older daughter hasn’t had kids and her youngest just got started.

There we were connecting at the modern, cyber family reunion, aka Facebook, oohing and ahhing over pictures of her new granddaughter when I had to ask, “What’s your grandma name?”

“I am Nana,” she replied, beaming her new name through the online universe. “Sally (her mom, my grandmother’s sister) was Nanny. The other grandma is Grammy. So Nana was available. Who knew it could be so complicated?”

Complicated indeed.

Apparently, the new baby has two sets of grandparents on her father’s side. One of them jumped on the Facebook comment thread, “We’re going to let little Olivia decide what to call us.”

Was this equally new grandparent suggesting my cousin somehow robbed their mutual granddaughter of some right?

What I took as a jab, my cousin handled with total grace. “Isn’t our little one lucky to have so many grandparents?” she wrote.

So is this a thing?

Is picking and claiming grandparent names the new contact sport for baby boomers?

Both my grandmothers were “Nana.”

There was Nana Lil and Nana Ann. There was no confusing them, as they were two very different women.

My mom is Nana.


I’m prematurely prepared.

“I already have my grandmother name,” I announced last year to my girls.

They looked at me with dread.

“I want to be called, ‘Guppy!’ ” I announced with gleeful anticipation of a day that is hopefully many, many years away.

“Guppy” was the girls’ first nickname for me as we were becoming a family about five years ago.

OK, so it came because I had a case of Bells palsy for a couple of months and my face looked like it was melting off my head. The girls decided I looked like a guppy fish. Maybe not the easiest of times, but Guppy it has been ever since.

“I will be Guppy. And Dad will be Puppy! Guppy and Puppy!”

The kids’ expressions looked like I had just served them up a plate of rotten spaghetti.

Who knew there would be an added benefit of this grandparent name game? I do believe I just came up with a new version of teen birth control.

Forget about sex ed, just come up with a horrifying grandparent name. These kids will not be making me a grandmother anytime soon.

That means for now, I need to live vicariously through you, Dear Reader.

Do you have a good story behind your grandparent name? Or the name you call your grandparents?

Share with me by emailing

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

Daryn Kagan is the author of “What’s Possible! 50 True Stories of People Who Dared To Dream They Could Make a Difference.” Email her at