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I'm not sure where it came from originally...some John Hughes pre-brat pack movie possibly, like Pretty in Pink, but do you know that totally teenager response to something someone says that starts like this only in a really sarcastic tone with a slight head-tilt/shake and an roll of the eyes thrown in for good measure?: Hell-o

It looks pretty innocuous there in black and white type on the computer screen, doesn't? Hello. 2 short syllables. Only in this context it's no greeting, but a smart alecky wake-up jolt designed to denigrate the recipient's intelligence and call their ancestry into question, to boot. When you say it, you never actually speak aloud the unspoken second phrase that silently accompanies that sarcastic hello but when you hear it, it insinuates itself into your brain regardless: how stupid are you? it says. Or DUH, only really oily and lipcurly.

My kids say it to each other and to us all the time. The problem is: they got it from me. And I think it's probably something I and my siblings have been saying to each other for years without really thinking about it. It's so ingrained that most of the time none of us even hear it, or hear how it sounds.

It sounds awful.

Now I have to figure out how to go about eradicating it from our daily repartee.

I grew up in a family of, apart from my mom, smart-mouth snappy answerers. All 3 of us kids got it from my dad, and it became deeply entrenched in each of us because it was FUNNY and funny was the best defense against my father's temper. If you could make him laugh, you could often divert his attention from whatever it was you were about to get ripped a new one for. The thing is, my dad died over 10 years ago, and not only are the 3 of us STILL in that pattern of language attack and defense mode, but 2 of us (so far) are propagating a new generation of wiseacres.

Now, I love a snappy comeback and witty reponses as much as the next guy, but I noticed at one of our family gatherings a year or so ago, because I was suddenly hearing us from someone else's point of view, how UGLY it can sound, and how MEAN.

How do you break a habit like that? One that you've grown up on and survived with? One that seems to fly out of you without any conscious intent? How do you slow your mouth-brain connection down enough to squash such rejoinders and gently encourage your children to find other ways to interact with you and each other?

Now, THERE'S a summer project I can sink my teeth into.
mood: uncomfortable
music: Alistair Griffin—Painkiller

(no subject) - (Anonymous)
(no subject) - (Anonymous)

Darn those sneaky diacritical marks! :D

Hopefully I just need to call attention to it with a family round-table and see if that will help. That's always been a good tactic in the past.

I know the very Hello you are talking about....

You've got kids, of course you do! :P

"hallå! (hur dum kan man va?)" see, it works in swedish too. i accidentally posted a comment here first that was meant for another journal. hello! oops, sorry. :-)

Har! Maybe I should just blame it on the Swedish! Yeah, that's it! :P

My parents broke my brother and me of verbal tics by charging us a quarter every time they heard us use the word or expression. Saying "like" as so many people do would have cost a fortune! I found it to be a very effective way of paying attention to what you said, because once caught, there was no way of getting out of the charge, and every kid wants to hold onto their money!


I must say that I admire people with witty repartee, because I don't have it. So don't put yourself down too much because, if used properly, it's a wonderful trait. However, having said that, how insightful of you to recognize the not so nice parts, to dig deeper and to be willing to change.

On another note, I was just tagged by a fellow blogger and thought I would pass the torch to you. So if you feel like sharing 8 random facts about yourself, you’ve been tagged. You can read about the ‘rules’ on my site.


Rules, schmules! :P I meme'd all over your comments!

hmm, eees a bheeeg one, fer sure

I do believe simply becoming aware is 9/10 of the battle. And, you understand the whys and wherefores-- I'll hurt you first so you can't hurt me, etc-- but how to become the "undefended self?" That's the train I'm on-- welcome aboard!


Re: hmm, eees a bheeeg one, fer sure

whooo ooo chugga chuga chug! Just the kind of trip I enjoy: one with excellent company :)


Thank you for recognizing this awful trait. I am thrilled to have those changes made. It will be so much more pleasant and kind at the family gatherings when everyone is not sarcastic and cutting. I have wished for those changes, but realized that it needed to come from yourselves, and not because "Mom Said...."! The words we use are so much more important than most of us realize. Oh, the JOY of hearing ourselves coming out of our kid's mouths! :0 Love, Lizardmom

Well, I suspect it will take some time to change the habits of half a lifetime for me (and my siblings, assuming they even care :) but hopefully I can try and curb it within my OWN family.

oh. dear. i so know that use of hello, and i giggled to remember using in just that way. i can only imagine what my little guy will say in a few years. i'm always interested in the way you reflect on the way your upbringing has influnced the way you raise karin and martin.


It can be so easy to let our adult, black humored way color our conversations - I think of all the things we say to each other, just the innocent phrases where the words mean something totally different - and how we do have to change those things before little (and growing) ears pick them up. I think we do a good job when we're around our godbaby - but I think of hearing a little mouth say "I hate you!" and I cringe. Not to mention curse words - thankfully we're not too bad unless we're driving or creating kitchen disasters.

My mom always talked to me about my "tone" with my brother. I would speak to him in a terribly disparging tone, but I couldn't "hear" myself doing it. What's funny is that I've struggled with the same thing with my husband - and it does hurt. And sound ugly, even if someone isn't conciously doing so. Good luck in changing those habits! I think if anyone can do it, it's your sweet family.


I sure hope so. I've caught myself saying it a number of times in the last day and am really appalled at how OFTEN it slips out. :(

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