Posted in WWWhat?

It’s me, Aunty PANK

I do love a good acronym. Especially when it lumps a whole category of society under one blanket, as if they are identical. Like those young, urban, professional ‘YUPpies’ or those double-income, no kids ‘DINKs’ or, possibly my favourite, those pesky ‘KIPPERS’ – kids in parents’ pockets eroding retirement savings. Anyways, I was delighted to read in the Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday that there is a category just for me (and quite a few of my blog readers, that I know of) – I am a PANK. Professional aunt, no kids.

A proud PANK - last Christmas, my nieces and nephew made these giant gingerbread people.
A proud PANK – last Christmas, my nieces and nephew made these giant gingerbread people.

Apparently, we PANKs are “a high-earning and fast-growing group of women who advertisers have identified will be among the most generous gift givers this Christmas”. In fairness, as I’m not working full-time at the moment, I’m probably more of a SPANK these days (semi-professional aunt, no kids). Whatevs, according to a PR lady from a global firm that published a report The Power of the PANK, as quoted in the article, ”PANKs have time, income and a passion for purchasing for the kids in their lives. It’s a perfect marketing trifecta”. Oh, Leslie Gaines-Ross – if that is your real name – I am so much more than a perfect marketing trifecta.

Slurpee PANK
Slurpee PANK

I’m in good company – apparently that report stated that “one in five women in America are PANKs, with an average age of 36.” And we even have our own website: was developed by Melanie Notkin in 2008 for ”cool aunts” and ”any woman who loves a child-not-her-own”. Uh huh. I had a look at the website, in the name of research, and must confess that I couldn’t get past the homepage. To me, being an aunt is my favourite thing in the world and somehow, it is the thing that I am probably best at – without study or guidance or even good role models from childhood aunts. I don’t feel that I need a list of suggested “stuff to do” or things to “learn and share” or a place to connect with “people just like [me]”.

Cupcakes by PANK (the sheep and the chickens)
Cupcakes by PANK (the sheep and the chickens)

Different strokes for different folks, but as an aunt, I keep it pretty simple. I just show up, prepared to act like an idiot, and I tell stories, get down on the floor, give piggy back rides, spell words, play Wii games (badly), sing, dance, chase, colour in and generally pal around with the little people who are amongst my best friends in the whole wide world. They don’t care that I can’t sing or dance or juggle. They like that I’m silly and funny and able to help with their homework and rhyme words like Dr Seuss. I watch soccer and tennis and dancing, listen to singing and re-enactments of events at school, jump on the trampoline and play totem tennis. I share the excitement of a new toy, app, book, certificate or previously undiscovered ability. I am (mostly) still greeted like a rock star when I appear at the door or in the school playground (at pick up time, not to hang out at lunchtime), which doesn’t happen when I show up at the office or the dentist or the supermarket.

PANK breakfast - chocolate pancakes with melted marshmallow
PANK breakfast – chocolate pancakes with melted marshmallow

So, to the marketing gurus no doubt plotting on how to best target us PANKs and relieve us of our professional or semi-professional cash, just remember that there are lots of different types of aunts out there and most of the PANKs that I know are about the fun of spending time with our little friends, not about spending bundles of money on our little friends. That being said, my eldest niece becomes a teenager at the end of this month, and from then on, I suspect the rules of the game may change quite a bit…

For now though, let us PANKs, SPANKs, PLANKs and PRANKs of the world unite and say a big woohoo for Aunts. Woohoo!

(Oh, and the Sydney Morning Herald article about PANKs is here if you’d like to read it.)