Gramma Jamma – The Beginning

Eileen Hopkins (Gramma Jamma)
Grandma’s Point of View

Having grown up in the 50’s and 60’s, I was one of those boomer kids who had a mom and a dad and two sets of grandparents. I never moved until I left home and my grandparents were always less than two hours away my whole life.  It was a near-Norman Rockwell experience with a very secure, family-centered environment. Fast forward to this decade and the scene is a little different.  Now, many children have parents and step-parents and could have four or more sets of grandparents.  How do they keep them straight when they are three or four years old and only see some of them once or twice a year?

Since my children have divorced parents and most have moved to other parts of the country, it has always been a challenge to connect with my long-distance grandchildren and, even more so, have them remember which one I was.  Geographical labels didn’t seem to make sense to my young grandsons and lacked that excitement you hoped your grandchildren would have when they knew you were coming for a visit.

While on a visit a number of years ago, I was settling into the role of “grandma in residence” for a few days at least.  Things were going well but my grandsons were always questioning which grandma was I.  We did some fun things over those few days but it wasn’t until one evening that a light bulb went on.  We were getting prepared to watch Happy Feet for the sixth time that night and, of course, the children were complaining about having to get ready for bed.  I jumped in, declared a race to see if I could beat them into their pajamas and then declared it “pajama party” night!  We whooped and hollered and then stampeded to the various bathrooms for teeth brushing and face washing until finally we were all assembled in our pajamas in front of the TV.  As I snuggled in with my grandsons to watch the dancing penguins on the TV, I felt like I had been given a huge Christmas present.  Warm little bodies under the covers, sparkling big eyes peaking out over blankets and we were off where the snow never melts and the penguins could talk.  Bliss!

With the movie done and bedtime beckoning, my brilliant daughter exclaimed:  “Let’s call this grandma, Gramma Jamma!”  Made sense to these little guys and off they bounced to bed.  The name stuck and along with Grandpa Guitar and Grandma and Grandpa Choo, my grandchildren now have names for all of us that make sense to them as they sort through all their loving grandparents.  The best thing is that now, when my daughter tells them Gramma Jamma is coming for a visit, they know exactly which kooky grandma is coming their way and that there will be at least one pajama party happening that week!

This blog posting is not a form of psychological counselling, advice, therapy, or assessment and should not be used as such by any individual. This blog posting is provided only as an article intended to encourage thought and discourse. For specific psychology related services, please contact an appropriate healthcare provider.


One Comment

  • Dr. Vanessa Lapointe | 2011.11.16 at 7:57 PM

    The most wonderful thing about having a Gramma Jamma, is that these sorts of defining traditions, roles, and “presence” have given our boys a sense of belonging and place. There is remarkable connection created by having a sense of belonging and place – a connection that transcends distance and time. A connection that saves them the heartache of too much separation and allows them to find a togetherness of family in spite of geography. What lucky boys they are!! We love you Gramma Jamma!!