Oh, jeez, Nonni.
Get a freakin’ grip.
I remember a time when I was very young, one of six children clamoring around my Mom. I remember her barking at us all, “Stop yelling “Mom”! Stop, you’re making me crazy!!!! I’m gonna change my name and not tell you what the new one is!”
At the time, afraid that my Mom was about to disappear on us, my siblings and I cried and moaned and tried to guess her new name. It was pretty harrowing.
Of course, I now realize that the entire time as we were crying and guessing her new name, we were all yelling, “Mom? Momma? Mommy! Ma! Mom! MOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMM!”
Still, I thought she was being just a tiny bit heartless.
While I have no clear recollection of feeling the same way about my own children, I now fully understand my Mother’s frustration at hearing her name called out roughly 987,675 times a day.
And this is where the whole grandparent thing gets weird.
I will never ever ever forget the first time that my sweet Ellie looked up at me with those melting brown eyes and said, “Na. Na ee.” My heart rate jumped right up to about 300 and I almost stopped breathing. “She said ‘Nonni!!!’ She said it! She said ‘Nonni”!!!”
Thrilled is way way way way way too weak a word for the joy that coursed through my bloodstream! Huzzah!!! She KNEW me! She recognized the key and unforgettable role that I was playing in her life! We were bonded forever, me and my girl! Oh happy, happy day!!!!!
You get the picture.
And it has only been the past month or so that little Johnny has started to use my name. He, for reasons that nobody can explain, talks like a little old Italian man. Like more than one of my old uncles, in fact. When he wants a snack, he asks for “cheese-a”. To answer the question “Who wants a snack?” he answers “Me-a!”
So of course, he calls me Nonna. With the long ‘nnn’ that marks a good Italian accent.
Si, that’s me! La Nonna!
Picture the same heart stopping joy and delusional beliefs of eternal love that I felt when Ellie first called out to me.
Happy, happy old Nonni/Nonna. Happy and joyful me-a!
Sure. For the first nine million times.
The problem is this: Ellie has learned to use the phrase, “But, Nonni….” to open every single comment. If she is asking me a question, it’s “But, Nonni, what part of our body helps us to chew?” If she needs something, she says, “But, Nonni, can I have milk?” To tell me about her weekend, “But, Nonni, we had so much fun with Grammy and Grampy.”
“But, Nonni……?” Over and over and over again. All day. Every day. ALL WEEK.
Even if I’m looking right at her, and we are the only two humans awake in the room. Even if I just said to her, “Honey, maybe we can do some art.” Even then, her first words are, “But, Nonni……….”
There are moments when I am sure that my head will explode.
Then sweet little Johnny, our man of few words, reaches out his arms to me. “Nonna?” He’ll ask, “Up? Arms?”
And I melt again.
Mom, I’m sorry for making you pretend that your name was Rumplestiltskin. I had no idea.
A Grandmother to be named later