Thursday, June 10, 2010



Here's something that makes me very angry: when another adult tries to circumvent the parent and go directly to the child.

Case 1: Random sales person at an open air booth with some sort of light up doohickey. 7yo wants to go over and look at it, but I say, "no we have to keep going." But sales person jumps in with, "oh, it's okay. c'mere, take a look." me: "no, 7yo, we have to go." salesperson: "it's okay, i won't bite." me says: "I know you don't bite, but we are actually going somewhere," but thinking "hey! i'm the kid's parent and I may or may not be right, but I'm the kid's parent, so back the hell off."

Case 2: Guy feeding ducks next to the canal with a loaf of bread. 7yo and I walk by on the way home from 1st grade. Guy: "hey, little one, want to feed the ducks?" me: "we can't; we have to go home." Now, lest I come across as a complete wet blanket, there are actual reasons for this. We had just picked up literature days before from wildlife specialists about how it wasn't good to feed ducks in our area because they interfere with other wildlife we'd like to support in various ways. Moreover, the canal actually has signs posted saying, "don't feed the birds. $500 fine." I'm not joking. Such signs are there. So I said no. Naturally, it's not the end of it. Man: "it's okay. here's the bread." 7yo walks to man to get the loaf of bread as man gives me a "you are such a horrible father" look. me: "I said we had do go." Man pointedly gives the bread to 7yo. I could have forced it and went off on the guy. Perhaps I should have, but at that point with bread in child's hand, we went ahead and fed the damn ducks. Now, the guy wasn't creepy. It's not that. It's just that I'm clearly saying no over and over, and he's determined to do this nice thing for my son, no matter what the stupid parent says. And that's completely wrong. Generally, a good spouse doesn't overrule their mate on parenting decisions in front of the kid unless it's a really bad decision. This should go 50-fold for a stranger, even if he's trying to be nice. Mr. Stranger needed to be fed to the ducks.

b: Did you know that "assundry" isn't an official standard American word? It may be a regional southernism. I had no idea it was so. Seems kinda formalish to me.

c: There was some commercial today where the tagline was "re-imagine possible," or some close thing. My question is: what the heck grammar is that? Is possible a noun there or an adjective? I can say "re-imagine the possible." Possible is a clear noun in that case. Are people in standard American English dropping more articles such that you get "re-imagine possible?" You can also say "re-imagine what's possible," where "possible is now an adjective in the clause "what is possible." Or perhaps it's an adjective in a shortened version of something like "re-imagine possible stuff." I'm mostly curious because I'm wondering if it's becoming more okay to drop articles. Or maybe "possible" can be used as a mass noun. You don't need articles with mass nows. "Re-imagine water," "re-imagine slime," "re-imagine brilliance." All good. But when did "possible" become a mass noun? Thoughts?

d. In Australia, filet as in filet mignon sounds like "fill it". How cool is that?

e. Apparently, there are real live rock wallabies living on O'ahu in Kalihi Valley. Wallabies in Hawai'i. A pair escaped about 100 years ago from some person, and, voila, wallabies. I might have to hike Kalihi Valley soon.


Precie said...

Only have time to comment on a)...I grit my teeth whenever I direct Child in some way and someone else follows up with "It's okay..." in that undermining way.

Phoenix said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Phoenix said...

a.2. Notwithstanding your parenting rights or the law, feeding the guy to the ducks would likely be a better nutritional option for the ducks than bread.

b. Gotta admit I'm more a populist when it comes to language. Since I write and edit for a living, that belief is often at odds with what I'm forced to do to put grain in the feed troughs. C'mon, people, lighten up! Language evolves. That's a good thing. Just because some body of work and a board needing to justify their jobs doesn't recognize a word doesn't mean it isn't a word. The litmus test is whether or not it communicates to the communicatee the idea meant by the communicator. Does it? Use it. With aplomb. Or apeach.

c. The company I work for, Hewlett-Packard (HP), has a new tagline: Let's Do Amazing. Feel free to diagram.

Mommy said...

i thought it was just "sundry". Sundries being the things you buy at the gorcery store that aren't food, like toilet paper and soap.

blogless troll said...

c: Mass noun makes the most sense. But the real problem is not the grammar, it's the logic. Possible doesn't need to be re-imagined. Stuff is either possible or it's not. If you can't prove something is impossible then it's possible, but you might not know how to do it. Therefore, most things already are possible, it's just that people have shitty attitudes. So maybe the slogan should be, "Use a more accurate definition of Impossible in your daily thought processes and change your shitty attitude, loser." Guess that's kind of cumbersome.

a2: I agree with Phoenix, or at least you should've thrown him in the pond.

d: My favorite is "Al Loo Minnim" as in al loo minnim can.

Anonymous said...

BT! Hi!!

I work with kids, so I have some degree of authority over my students (though not as much as a "real" teacher). Plus I see some really questionable parenting situations (YES, I'm being judgmental. Telling your crying kid "I'll give you something to cry about" is not okay.) But I never, ever let my word be the final say - it's always a "yes if your parents say so." And, if the parent disagrees with me, I don't pout or roll my eyes or make the kid feel in any way like their parent is an idiot.

What usually happens to us, since Bear is autistic, is that an unknown adult will try make a comment - "Hey, buddy, I like your shirt" - and Bear hides his face against me. I don't insist he speak to strangers (hard enough to get him to speak to friends & family) but neither do I want to say, "He's autistic." Or even "he's shy." He shouldn't feel labeled because some random person tried to be kid-friendly.

Robin S. said...

It really, really (are you surprised by this...) pisses me off when a total stranger, or even someone in a position of authority (an authority often paid for by a pool of tax dollars, of which I am a long-term contributor) works on one of my kids. I am not as polite and nice as you are, plus, I don't trust strangers around children, even young adult female children, especially if those strangers are men. So, I agree with you - those people are annoying. And I feel strongly that they deserve whatever you wanna say to their self-righteous or self-serving selves.

The fill-et thing is Brit as well. When my husband first said it, I laughed my ass of at him. Then he reminded me that I pronounce tire, tower and tar...'tar'... and I laughed my ass off again.

Robin S. said...


BT - you live!!!

Sarah Laurenson said...

Hey BT!

Boundaries do seem to be a thing of the past these days with people thinking they have the right to interfere with your personal life - kids, job, clothes, etc. Lots of inappropriate questions and remarks being thrown around out there. Though I must say if someone is being nasty to a kid in front of me, I'm likely to say something or make it obvious they're being watched.

And I'm sorry, but I'm not speeding, running this red light or stop sign - breaking the law - just so the guy behind me can get where he's going 2 seconds faster.

Sundries - yes. Assundry? Not sure. There are many interesting nuances to the southern US language.

Our company motto is "Do Right". Not as egregious as some, but still. Could they not spring for the "what's" in the middle?

"Al U Min Nium" "Sheh Djool" etc.

Peter Dudley said...

I have to admit I am a recovering "oh, it's OK" adult. Not in the way you've described it here, where people are actually telling your child it's OK for him to do something you've already said no to.

My transgression was always in this form:
Kid's parent: "Say 'excuse me' to the man, Johnny. You don't just bump into people."
[silence from the child]
Kid's parent: "Johnny, say 'excuse me.'"
[more silence]
Me: "That's OK. No problem."

Took me having my own kids to understand that the conversation was not actually between me and the kid, but between the parent and the kid. Now instead of letting the kid off the hook and undermining the parent's authority, if the kid doesn't respond, I just give the parent a sympathetic smile and shrug.

That guy with the ducks, though--what a jerk.