Grammar, Manners, and Other Behavior

How Many Texts Is Too Many?

Dear Kid,

I woke up to 60 text messages this morning.

You know you haven’t had enough coffee when numbers look like little people dancing. DearKidLoveMom.comYep. 6-0. As in one more than 59. (See how I do that math thing even this early in the morning?)

My first thought was (predictably) “You have GOT to be kidding me.”

My second thought was (even more predictably) “Coffee.”

Since that seemed to use up my ability to think for a while, I didn’t bother with a third thought.

Turned out (quite happily) that the 60 messages were a running dialog you, Pi, and Dad had last night about the various football games in progress, the ability to sum up most football games with the single word “kickers” (with or without exclamation points), and nailbiter emojis. It made me smile before the coffee kicked in (not an easy trick).

I was thinking about those texts when Grandma showed me an article about the importance of grammar. It will not be news to you to know that I think grammar is important. (Pi—if you’re reading this, the correct usage is “Sophia and I are dying” not “Me and Sophia are dying.”)

It will also not surprise you to know that I am perfectly comfortable with different “proper” usage for different types of communication.

For example, “’Kickers!’ nailbiter emojis” is perfectly fine text communication. Especially when the conversation preceding it has been about a football field goal attempt. It is lousy writing for a news column.

“See ya’” is a perfectly fine communication between friends agreeing to meet for pizza. It is anything except acceptable for closing a business communication.

As the article pointed out, one of the benefits of grammar (besides not worrying about your mother correcting you) is that when you use correct grammar you increase the odds that the person you’re communicating with will understand you. Using poor grammar often leads to “Huh? Explain.”

And while “Me and Sophia are dying” may completely and clearly convey the stress of not knowing the all-important outcome of the football game, I sincerely hope my voice is in her head saying “Sophia and I”.

Love, Mom

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Do You Know This About Fact Checkers?

Dear Kid,

Once upon a time there were no fact checkers in the world.

Then people were invented and – PRESTO! – fact checking leapt into existence.

Joe Neanderthal: There is good hunting over the ridge
Friend of JN: Nuh-uh
JN: Yes there is!
F of JN: Prove it
Mrs. Joe Neanderthal: Somebody better go find something for dinner

Fact checking really took off once teenagers were invented.

General Example:
Parent: No, you cannot go to the saber tooth tiger hunt
Teenager: No fair! That’s not what you said last night!

Specifically Detailed Example:
Parent: No, you cannot go to the saber tooth tiger hunt
Teenager: No fair! That’s not what you said 4 days, 3 hours, and 26 minutes ago!

Parent: No, you cannot go to the saber tooth tiger hunt Teenager: Everyone is going. It’s perfectly safe. Even Gina’s Mom said so. Before she was eaten. DearKidLoveMom.comSometimes fact checkers use actual facts as part of the checking process. Sometimes (especially if they are teenagers) they completely bypass the need for accuracy and rely purely on rumor and innuendo. Or Google.

Parent: No, you cannot go to the saber tooth tiger hunt
Teenager: Everyone is going. It’s perfectly safe. Even Gina’s Mom said so. Before she was eaten.

Now that we’re ankle-deep in the political season, there are going to be a lot more people checking facts. A lot more facts.

Sometimes the fact checkers will agree. Often they will not. This is what gives sports commentators, political commentators, and weather forecasters job security.

It’s also what makes me skip directly to NCIS reruns and bypass most news shows.

Love, Mom

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Mom Versus the Sports Bra

Dear Kid,

Anyone who says that men and women are identical in all things has never experienced the joy of a sports bra.

A well-crafted sports bra is all about, um, restraint, and is built with more attention to engineering than the space station.

Wriggling in and out of a good sports bra involves the grace of a drunk water buffalo and the agility of a contortionist. DearKidLoveMom.comA sports bra “fits” if it is 4 sizes smaller than that which it is trying to contain. Wriggling in and out of a good sports bra involves the grace of a drunk water buffalo and the agility of a contortionist. Scientists have determined that more calories are burned dressing and undressing than during most workouts.

You think Game of Thrones contains battles? Ha! That’s nothing compared to the Battle of the Sports Bra.

Yesterday I almost lost the battle. The particular garment in question has a clip thing (no problem) AND a zipper (big problem). To correctly fasten the zipper you have to exert 2 billion pounds of force to bring the two sides together and then zip the zipper. While you hold the edges still. This works better if you’re an octopus. Having only standard issue limbs, I struggled.

Somehow, the zipper misaligned and I found myself in the grip of industrial strength elastic. The zipper would neither zip nor move down. The elastic tried to simultaneously strangle me and pull apart the entire contraption.

I tugged, I tweaked, I coaxed, I cajoled, I pulled, I lost. I tried holding part of the zipper in my teeth. (Yes, mom, even after all that orthodonture.) I was mere moments away from calling the rescue team to bring a pair of scissors to cut me free when I finally (finally!) muttered the proper curse and got unzipped.

After I got the whole thing refastened, I hit the gym floor. It seemed like a lot of effort to stroll once around the track. (I’m kidding. I strolled several times around.)

Equality, my Aunt Fanny.

Love, Mom


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Happy Best Friend Day!

Dear Kid,

It’s Best Friend Day—Happy BFD. Wait, that didn’t exactly sound right.

Olympic friendship DearKidLoveMom.comBest Friend Day brings up the question How Many Best Friends Can a Person Have?

The orthodox grammarians among us know that the answer is One! Only One! Are you kidding me? I can’t even believe we’re having this conversation. “Best” implies One!

The orthodox grammarians among us need to chill a little.

Amazingly, I have a rather tolerant stance on the subject of BFFs. I think a person can have (if they are sufficiently lucky) many BFFs. Because, like genres of TV, not all friends fall into the same category.

Friends are kisses blown to us by angels. quote. Best Friend Day. DearKidLoveMom.comThere is the Will Agree With Me No Matter What BFF, the Loves The Same Movies I Love BFF, the Will Force Me To Face The Issue BFF, the Workout BFF, the Tells Me The Truth BFF, the Likes Cool Video Games BFF, the Work BFF, the I Can Call In An Emergency BFF, the Out On The Town BFF, and – perhaps most importantly – the Puts Up With Me At My Worst BFF.

There are others, but I picked some of my faves in the interest of space.

If you are lucky, you have a friend who falls into more than one category (also known by friendship scientists everywhere as the Super BFF). If you are extremely lucky, you have a friend who falls into several categories (known as Ultra BFF).

Did you say Best Friend or Beast Friend? Happy Best Friend Day!Happy Best Friend Day! How will you and your bestie celebrate?

Love, Mom

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Why Your Signature Is So Valuable

Dear Kid,

Your signature is an important and valuable thing.

The large print giveth, the small print taketh away. Tom Waits. DearKidLoveMom.comNot because you’ve starred in a blockbuster movie or because you’ve built the world largest house out of blocks or even because you walked around the block, but because it’s yours.

So you need to be careful where you put it.

Riddle: What can you put down many times without ever picking up?

You need to be careful when you sign a check. You can be less careful when you sign a birthday card.

You need to be very careful when you sign a contract.

When you sign a contract you are agreeing to all the terms of the contract—whether you know you’re agreeing to them or not.

Cool, huh?

Which means that you need to know what is in an agreement before you sign it.

Saying, “I don’t like that clause” works just fine—before you affix your John Hancock to the document. You can negotiate, refuse to sign, get advice, go out for coffeebefore you sign. Post-signature, those options are not available to you (except, presumably, for the coffee).

Saying “I didn’t know” gets you exactly nowhere (unless you were hoping to get A Look implying you’ve left your brain elsewhere and I’m happy to provide that any time you’d like).

Before you sign, take the time to figure out what you’re agreeing to. If it’s something short and simple to read, read. If it’s long and complicated, take the time to get help from someone who Knows About These Things.

Yesterday, I heard an Adult Who Should Know Better (I am not making this up although I wish I were) say, “That was an 85 page contract. You expected me to read the whole thing?” You will not be surprised to hear that he said that when he found out there were things in said contract he didn’t want to have to comply with.

You’re smarter. Stay smarter.

Love, Mom

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Learning to Speak Standard Restaurant Arrival Banter

Dear Kid,

Sometimes I worry that you don’t speak another language. Today, I am going to teach you how to speak and interpret Standard Restaurant Arrival Banter. Or possibly Sub-Standard Restaurant Arrival Banter.

The other night (let’s call it Sunday), Grandma and Grandpa and I went out for dinner. Let’s call the restaurant DD Flats.

Learning How To Speak Standard Restaurant Arrival Banter.

It was an adorable little place with about a dozen tables half of which were full when we got there.

Because you are a smart college student, I probably do not have to point out that this means that half were empty. As in not occupied.

Shortly after we arrived, we entered into the Standard Restaurant Arrival Banter.

“How many?” [Hello]

“Three.” [We’d like to eat here.]

“Do you have a reservation?” [Let me see if you’re on our List.]

“Um, no.” [Um, half your tables are empty.]

“One minute.” [I don’t care if the tables are empty; you have to wait because you don’t have a reservation.]

“OK. Thank you.” [Fine, but who are we really kidding?]


“Would you like to sit outside?” [Economy seating is available.]

“No.” [It’s a tad chilly for that. But thanks for asking.]

“It will be a 20 minute wait.” [Told you you’d have to wait if you don’t have a reservation.]

“Thank you.” [Seriously? Half of these tables are empty!]


“I checked with the Head Waiter and it will be a 20 minute wait.” [I’m just saying what I’ve been told to say.]

“OK. Thank you.” [Yeah. We heard you the first time. And the tables are still empty.]

EEEE-ventually (and I do mean eventually, but that’s a different story), we were seated and had a very nice dinner.

Dinner at DD Flats. Learning to speak Standard Restaurant Arrival Banter.

Dinner at DD Flats. Learning to speak Standard Restaurant Arrival Banter.


The two middle tables (which were apparently reserved for a party of 8) remained empty. All night.

Love, Mom

Food photos taken by Grandma. Because she’s better at it than I am.

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