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During my lifetime, I have known three grandparents. I have never called any of them by the traditional names.

My one remaining grandmother is not known as Grandma. Neither is she Granny, Nanny or Nan. She is Nana, pronounced Nan-arr (as if she was christened by a pirate).


Nana’s husband, my grandfather, was called Dada. He was also christened by pirates, so his name was pronounced Dad-arr.

These are the names used by all their grandchildren. I’m not entirely sure where the pirate theme originated from, but I’m pretty certain it had something to do with my eldest cousin Louise, who probably struggled to say Grandma. There’s a similarity between Grandma and Nana, if you say it slowly, in toddler fashion.

In an equally non-traditional way, my other grandmother also shunned Grandma as a name. She had a bobby dazzler of a title: Suntan.

Yep. That is what we actually called her. Without a hint of humour. Her name was Suntan and that was that. No questions asked.

Again, I think this has something to do with my elder cousins. I know they referred to her as Tantan, which in my 2 year old state of mind I probably found quite boring. So, in our house, Tantan was just plain old Suntan. It was a given. She even signed her birthday cards and letter, “Love from, Suntan”.

My 22 month old daughter is currently in the naming phase. She is lucky enough to have all four grandparents to christen. All four grandparents, whom she idolises. Her obsession over each grandparent rivals my own obsession with Gary Barlow. It borders on the unhealthy.

She’s cracked the names of my own parents. This happened with a certain finality over the last couple of days.

My mum, her Grandma, is Mar Mar. Dragging my mother around the house, Frog shouted Mar Mar at the top of her lungs.

The excitement was almost too much to bear when she was met on the road by the newly arrived Mar Mar. Frog’s legs waved around in all their hypermobile glory, like a plasticine man gone wild. She shrieked with elation “MAR MAR! MAR MAR!” before settling into a quivering state of excited shock.

Mar Mar it is then.

She has also newly named her grandfather this weekend. He is the Mark Owen to Mar Mar’s Gary Barlow. Another object of complete obsession. And from now on, he will be known not as Grandad, Grandpa or Pops.

Nope, his name is Dandaz.


Frog’s northern grandparents remain Grandma and Grandad, unless she decides on something different. I’m almost hoping she really mixes it up with something like Sparkly Pants and Icecream Head or an equally bizarre alternative. Or maybe she’ll just stick with Grandma and Grandad, who knows.

So, for now, the grandparents in our life remain as Mar Mar, Dandaz, Grandma and Grandad.

I’m intrigued though, is this normal? Coming from a history of non-traditionally named grandparents, it seems normal enough to me. But what are the grandparents in your life known as?