I’ve learned a lot about grandparenting since my first grandchild showed up five years ago. Now that I have four of them, I consider myself a professional grandparent. And I’ve learned one important fact in the past five years: Times have changed since I raised my kids.
I thought I’d share what I’ve learned about grandparenting, to save you from some of the embarrassing problems I’ve faced. Here goes.
First, determine what kind of grandparent you are, so you’re clear about your goals.
1. The “Kick-Back Boomer” type tends to take a “whatever” approach to grandparenting, and goes with the flow. She’s likely to be chill-axing on the couch with the G-kids watching “Jersey Shore,” playing “Angry Birds,” or reading to them from “Twilight.”
2. The “Bad-Ass Granny” type views life as an action film, preferring a Harley over a rocker. She likes to challenge her grandkids with exciting adventures like competing in Japanese game shows, running with the bulls, and playing Guitar Hero: 3-D.
3. The “Handy Helper” grandparent wants to help her grandkids learn a useful skill, such as knot-tying, hair-braiding, or fire-starting. But she also enjoys learning skills from her grandkids, like My-Facing, party-hosting, or shizzle-speaking.
4. The “Cartoon Character” grandparent wears her gray hair in a bun, sports an apron decorated with cats, and knits yard-sized shawls. If you fall into this category, you need to dye your hair orange, replace the apron with an Aerosmith tee, and ink your own tats.
Next, determine what you want to be called. Not surprisingly, many grandparents today don’t like the old-school term “granny.” If you’re looking for a new handle to use with your grandchildren, here are some popular suggestions.
For the woman formerly known as “grandmother,” try: Big Mamma, Earth Mother, Diva, Glamma, Grana-Banana, G-Ma, Mambo, Mother Superior, Queen Mother, and Your Highness.
For the man formerly known as “grandfather,” how about: Big Daddy, Captain, Chief, Coach, Doc, Glad-dad, G-Pa, Moneybags, PopPop, Professor, and Grumpy.
Finally, you must learn what to say and what NOT to say in front of your grandchildren. The quickest way to break down communication between you and your grandkids is to use a grandparent cliché. Bite your tongue and use this Translation Chart for alternatives to outdated utterings. For example:
What your grandparent said: “Your music makes no sense…” What you will say: “Want to hear Lady Gaga on my iPod?”
What your grandparent said: “Doesn’t that piercing hurt?” What you will say: “What do you think I should get pierced next?”
What your grandparent said: “You’re wearing that!?” What you will say: “Could I borrow your outfit?”
What your grandparent said: “The Beatles were so groovy!” What you will say: “I’m twittering Justin Bieber.”
There’s so much more I could teach you, but it would fill a book. Hmmm. Not a bad idea. Of course, by the time it’s published, no one will know who Lady Gaga is, piercings and tattoos will be out of date, and names for grandparents will be fo shizzle. No worries. In a few months my five-year-old grandson will be six and I’ll be able to update you with a whole new list of “how to be a hip grandparent” tips.