One of my neighbours’ kids call their grandma “Helen.”
“Helen watch me jump on the trampoline.”
“Helen do you want to play snap?”
“Helen can I have another cupcake, but don’t tell mum.”
When I first met her I wondered who she was, this “Helen” person who seemed to be a frequent visitor to their home. I figured she was a babysitter, a family friend, a distant relative.
But when I learnt it was actually their grandma I asked why they didn’t just call Helen “Grandma” or “Nan” or heck, even “Nona”, why Helen?
She thinks grandma makes her sound old my neighbour explained. So she’s always just been Helen to the kids.
“Helen” is one of a growing legion of grandparents who refuse to be known by the traditional grandparent names of “Grandma” and “Grandpa”.
Out is Pops, Pop, Gramps and Grandpop.
In is G-Pa, G-Pop, Grand-D and Pepe.
For Grannies just plain old Gran is now way too little-old-lady-with-knitting-needles instead we have Gogi, Glam-ma, Gummy, GeeMa, Godget, Foxy and Glammy.
It’s the new wave of grandparents who don’t quite see themselves as elderly enough to have earnt a traditional title and want something unique to just them.
No more Nana or Noni. No more Grandpappy or Pa. Instead we hear of Bunny and Doody and Tootsie and Doo-da.
That kid screaming at the park isn't demanding to go and see Gran and Grandad, they want Honey and Huggy. NOW.
Lin Wellford, author of The New Grandparents Name Book, told Love to Know that grandparents these days like names that aren’t too “stodgy"- like the couple she found in researching her book who went with the names “Rocky and Kitty.”
She said people becoming grandparents today seem to want to use names that reflect how they see themselves. “Most of my Boomer generation friends see themselves as youthful, so they are picking names that reflect that; Pop-pop, G-Ma, Nona, Bubba."
As you can imagine the trend to have a unique Grandparent name in Hollywood is as hot as Bikram yoga.
Gwyneth Paltrow’s mother Blythe Danner is reportedly called Wolf and Lalo by her grandchildren, Apple and Moses.
While Goldie Hawn is said to go by the now, not so unique “Glam-Ma.”
And its not just the celebrities.
Donald Trump’s eight grandkids don’t call him Grandpa or Pops – no its Donald to them, while our own prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s grandkids call him Baba and his wife, Lucy Turnbull - Gaga.
A quick squizz through parenting forums and you can see the divide that this preference for unique grandparent names is having, grandparents love them, parents, not so much.
From forum to forum soon-to-be- parents moan and groan about the name their own parents and in-laws have chosen.
One woman writing “My mother in law wants to be called Molly. It's not her name. She just picked a random woman's name for my child to call her. I think it's bizarre.”
Another: "When I was pregnant with DS, my mother said she wanted to be called "Lovey." I thought it was ridiculous.”
One woman says her mother wanted to be called “Aunt Pam” because she was too young be a grandma while her mother-in-law “decided from the second we talked about having kids that she was going to be called GiGi (we had no say in this matter), and that her husband, DH's father would be LoLo"
She continues "I don't like either of these, as I feel like it sounds like two names for a dog, but- ultimately the child will decide what to call the "grandparents" so, it doesn't really matter what they try to call themselves! “
One exasperated woman wrote that her mother-in-law wanted to be called “Mommay."
She said ”she swears it’s French."
The woman wrote:" 1) No, i'm pretty sure it isn't. 2) She's not French. 3) It sounds like Fonzie is saying it. 4) It's too close to Mom for my comfort. I probably would go along with what she picked for herself if she picked something less crazy, but this one I can't just get behind.”
Of course when blended families are thrown into the mix things can get very confusing when there are a few sets of grandparents to go around.
A mum of one told a forum her kids had a Gran and Pops, a Nan and Poppy, a Granny and Granpops and a Nona and Poppa.
When you consider having to sort through those Christmas cards you can almost see how “Helen” might just be a better option.