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zird is the word [userpic]
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


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. :(

October 2019
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I can complain because rose bushes have thorns or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.

Abraham Lincoln

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