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Posts Tagged ‘Grandma’

Not a very exciting title but then again I thought it would be the kind of thing someone might type into a search engine and it lays it out the way it is.

Lately many of my friends (all women of a certain age) seem to be either becoming Grandmothers or posting photos of their newly-born or very cute toddler grandchildren.  And my latest grandchild, the cutest (read prettiest) little boy is aobut to turn one.  I   admittedly and shamelessly am one of those Grandmothers After all, you know what some people say, ‘what’s the point of raising kids if you’re not going to be blessed with grandkids’.

When my first grandchild was born, I was sure I didn’t want to be called Grandma, the term just conjured up some images of my own grandparents who I never remember as being youngish.  It’s possible by the time my grandkids grow up they may not remember how young and vibrant and pretty their grandmother was when they were born either.   There I said it.  It’s all part of that Baby Boomer culture where we will never be as old as our parents were and why should we? 

So faced with the question from my daughter as to how would I prefer to be referred to, I didn’t hesitate  and immediately said, ” Well certainly not Grandma”! 

There was an article in the Wall Street Journal about this very dilemma now being faced by my generation and after reading it, I thought I would share the essence of it with the rest of you Grandmas and Grandpas.  Apparently aging Baby Boomers are in the midst of a grandbaby boom and we’re struggling with a bunch of issues.  Like how to be attentive grandparents while having our own busy career and increasingly, caring for the our own elderly parents?  How to stay close to the tykes while living far away?  (oh boy does that one ever hit home)

And of course what to be called by their grandchildren, lest it make them sound – and feel – old.  It’s as I said, earlier, another example of how baby boomers, whose anthem was Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young” are not going gently into old age.  Gosh I hope anyone under the age of 40 knows who Bob Dylan is!!

Naturally there are lots of people who are happy with the old appellations, Granny, Gramps, Bubbe and Zayde just doesn’t do it for this group, with their toned bodies, plastic surgery and youthful outlooks.  More like Grand-Dude!  I read about one couple who opted for Glamma (glamorous grandma) and Papa Doc (he was a dentist).  Problem with Papa Doc is that it reminds many people of the late Haitian dictator, Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier – however, again maybe only us boomers know who that is.

The children of these baby boomers are perplexed as to why their parents are so concerned about vanity and self-interest.  Many young Jewish mothers yearned to have a Bubbe in their children’s lives just as they had growing up.  But often the mother and mother-in-law said no to that title as for them it conjured up a neurotic, overprotective worrywort or someone from the old country, who has an accent, looks frumpy and wears a babushka.  Stereotypes yes, but obviously too real for some of us.

Experts in the field of aging are not surprised that baby boomers are seeking creative ways to avoid wrinkly sounding labels. “That whole generation is reinventing old age”, says Tome Nelson, chief operating officer of AARP, formerly known as the American Association of Retired Persons.  In fact, AARP’s marketing department has had to devise new ways of talking to boomers so as not to alienate them by making them feel old!

Some new parents call a summit meeting with the soon-to-be grandparents and give them the opportunity to pick out names and avoid duplications.  You can only imagine how this goes down with those parents who divorced and re-married in the interim!  Luckily in my own case, all the players were civilized about the abundance of grandparents and step-grandparents and believe it or not, we came up with enough names to suit everybody!

I’m GiGi (for me that’s glam gram) and the other grandmother is Nana, my ex-husband is Nono (Italian) and the other grandfather is Poppi ( a long-standing tradition in that family), my now husband is Papa Pete – it worked out nicely.

I’ve heard of several creative names in the past couple of years such as Meme, Me Ma, Coco, Lefty and Sheriff.  That’s probably the tip of this baby boomer iceberg so now I would love to have you all send me some of the new names you’ve heard or created yourself to identify grandparenthood.  There’s a whole lot of babies yet to be born and new appellations needed!

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My very Irish friend sent an email to me the other day containing a satirical list of things, events and people that constituted The Life of an Italian Child.  MMmmmm interesting.  I’ve seen lists like this before and they are usually a caricature and over-the-top picture of Italian life and culture.  This one had its fair share of absurdities and legendary myths BUT…as we all know, every satire is based in truths and facts.  

Many on the list made me smile and reminisce of days long gone by.  I remembered so many incidents from my childhood that reminded me that I always knew I was Italian.  So I thought I would share most of these remembrances with my readers and If you’re not Italian, some of these things may seem a little strange.    BUT… if you are, this is a nice reflection back to the way things used to be…  In some cases I’ve added my own footnotes – well after all, it IS my blog!

Per tutta mia famiglia e gli amici, ti amo oggi, domani e sempre

1. You have at least one relative who wore a black dress every day for an entire year after a funeral. (well maybe not a whole year)

2. Every Sunday afternoon of your childhood was spent visiting your grandparents and extended family. (I lived in another state from my grandparents but I think my cousins did experience this to some degree)

Making Meatballs

Making Meatballs

3. You’ve experienced the phenomena of 150 people fitting into 50 square feet of yard during a family cookout.  

4. You thought killing the pig each year and having salami, capacollo, pancetta and prosciutto hanging out to dry from your shed ceiling was absolutely normal. (Wow, that’s really Italian!) (not me but my Dad…although there was one year…)

5. You ate pasta for dinner at least three times a week, and every Sunday. (at least twice for sure)

6. . You grew up thinking no fruit or vegetable had a fixed price and the price of everything was negotiable through haggling. (oh yes, when Grandma visited)

7. You were as tall as your grandmother by the age of seven. (if not seven, then certainly by ten)

I can smell the garlic

I can smell the garlic

8. You thought everyone’s last name ended in a vowel. (well most of our friends and all the relatives)

9. Your mom’s main hobby was cleaning. (my Italian mother-in-law definitely)

10.You were surprised to find out that wine was actually sold in stores. (not quite but homemade was always available)

11. You never ate meat on Fridays. (It was always Pasta e Fagioli or Alio d’ollio)

12. You thought Catholic was the only religion in the world. (I still have my doubts about those others lol)

Sneaking a meatball from the pot

Sneaking a meatball from the pot

13. You were beaten regularly with a wooden spoon or broom. (my father said Grandma used a wooden spoon on him)

14. You can understand Italian but you can’t speak it.

15. You have at least one relative who came over on the boat. (my Grandfather)

16. All of your uncles fought in a World War.

17. You have at least six male relatives named Tony, Frank, Joe or Louie.

Lasagna

18.  You have relatives who aren’t really your relatives. (I had a few)

19. . You have relatives you don’t speak to. 

20. You drank wine before you were a teenager. (Does dandelion wine count?)

21. You grew up in a house with a yard that didn’t have one patch of dirt that didn’t have a flower or a vegetable growing out of it

22. Your grandparents’ furniture was as comfortable as sitting on plastic.   Wait….You were sitting on plastic. (and your thighs stuck to the seat)

22. You thought that yelling was normal. (it still holds true in my house)

Mama Mia, Spaghetti and Meaballs

Mama Mia, Spaghetti and Meaballs

23. You thought sugared almonds, full sit-down meals, and the Tarantella were found at all weddings. (never went to one that didn’t have the works)

24. You thought everyone got pinched on the cheeks and had money stuffed in their pockets by their relatives. (Oh boy, when Aunt Susie visited!)

25. Your mother is overly protective of the males in the family no matter what their age. (Italian mothers and Jewish mothers)

26. There was a crucifix in every room of your house.(well not in every room, just most)

27. . You couldn’t date a boy without getting approval from your father. (Oh, and he had to be Italian.) (definitely true)

28. You called pasta “macaroni”. (with gravy)

29. Every condition, ailment, misfortune, memory loss and accident was attributed to the fact that you didn’t eat something.

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