Bonus grandma

making paper dinosaur

My three desert-dwelling grandsons — Bubby, Mac, and Jak — call me Gramma. I am their grandma, and they call me Gramma.

My local step-grandson — Bud, whom I see only every once in a while as he lives with Patrick (his dad) and Brianna every other week — calls me Lisa. Which is what I told him he's welcome to call me. He calls Jim by his first name, too. He used our first names when we first met, when his dad was dating our daughter. We figured we'd continue that way once the two were married and Brianna became his stepmom, we became his stepgrandparents.

I know, I know. Many folks feel quite strongly that kids should use a Miss or Mrs. or Mr. when addressing adults, as a sign of respect. I agree to some degree. I was Miss Lisa to my Girl Scouts decades ago. Mrs. Carpenter when I helped at school or church when my girls were young. Miss Lisa again when I was a site coordinator for the local Children's Literacy Center. As a sign of respect.

I'm not worried Bud won't respect me. He's shown he does in multiple ways, thus requires no rule regarding my moniker. What I'm more concerned about is Bud feeling comfortable with me (and Jim) considering all the step sorts of stuff that can be so very uncomfortable for kids when families first blend.

So I'm Bud's stepgrandma and he calls me Lisa.

I'm okay with the Lisa part of it. The step part of the position's title not so much.

The word stepgrandmother seems so... stilted? Unapproachable? Disney villain-ish? And so not what I want to be to Bud. But I've not yet come up with a better word to describe the connection.

Which is weird, now that I think of it, considering the steps I've had and known along the way to my own step status.

I had a stepgrandmother. She entered the picture after I was married, though, so I never really thought much about what she was to me. Nor me to her. I also didn't think about the stepgrandmother title for my mom, who was one to steps of varied sorts throughout our large family. Or Jim's stepmom who was a stepgrandmother to my own daughters (who called her Grandma Carpenter). Nor did I consider it in relation to my own stepmother, my older sister who has stepchildren and stepgrandchildren, my younger sister who has the very same.

I suppose it's just one of those things you don't really think too much about until it happens to you.

On Monday I was thinking about it.

This past Monday, Presidents' Day, Bud hung out with me all morning. He had no school because of the holiday, and Brianna, who usually hangs out with him when it's her and Patrick's week with Bud and he has no school, did have school. (She's working toward her medical assistant certification). So I stepped up to the plate to play grandma, er, stepgrandma and cover the caregiving for my grandson, er, stepgrandson.

We had a grand time. We played Connect Four. We took turns singing (and dancing) to JUST SING! karaoke on the Xbox. He practiced perfecting "Mary Had a Little Lamb" and "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" on my piano. We talked. We snacked. He created a killer paper airplane. He constructed a paper dinosaur, too.

When I posted a picture of Bud's dino-making moments (the pic atop this post) on social media, I avoided including tags of any step sort. For either of us. Mentioning step, it seems, reinforces the not real reality of our relationship. And I don't want Bud — or me or others — to think his status as my grand is any less than that of my real grandsons.

Soon after posting the step-free photo on social media, something magical happened: a comment on the picture from a Facebook friend! Getting a comment wasn't all that surprising; what was written in the comment was.

"Best bonus grandma ever!" my friend wrote.

Bonus grandma? I'm a bonus grandma?

YES! I realized. I am a bonus grandma! A stepgrandma — with a kinder, gentler, preferable name.

Bud has two real grandmas. He calls each a variation of grandma, by name and by position. I have no desire to try to take their place or position or name in any way whatesoever. I never want him — nor them — to think I have any other intention. I understand and accept that I'm Bud's stepgrandma.

I just don't like the title.

But bonus grandma? That title fits fabulously.

I understand and accept — and appreciate — that what I have to offer Bud in the grandmother department is extra, in addition to the love, affection, attention, and more he gets from his real grandmas. Bonus love, bonus affection, bonus attention, bonus whatever else this grandma gives.

I am a bonus grandma.

What makes that especially grand? Being Bud's bonus grandma means that he is my bonus grandson.

And I truly cannot imagine a better bonus grand than Bud.

Bud who calls me Lisa.

Which I'm okay with.

Because that's what bonus grands get to do.



• Want more on names? Read my previous post on real grandma names.

Today's question:

What other terms have you heard — or use yourself — for the stepgrandma position?