Thursday, July 14, 2011

Words With No Meaning

I love words.  They're so...meaningful.  (Yes, I know, very profound.)

For instance, take this quote which I want to hang in the new nursery:
“It is not a slight thing when those so fresh from God love us.” ~ Dickens
"Fresh" is the perfect word for a newborn, isn't it?

But since becoming a parent I have discovered that there are words in my house that have utterly lost their meaning.  Or worse had their meaning morph into the opposite of what it should be.

For instance:

 [help] - verb
1. to give or provide what is necessary to accomplish a task; render assistance to; aid; assist; to make easier

My kids often offer to "help" me.  Or (worse) I ask them to "help" me.  But whatever happens around here certainly doesn't fit with the definition above.

Belle asked if she could help with the laundry.  She's two, so I automatically adjust the meaning of "help" from "render assistance" to "be a talkative companion who will be a hindrance."  Already a significant downgrade from the real meaning.

But, in an effort to, I dunno, be a good mom or something, I have her "help" me toss clothes into the washer and dryer.  So there, I was "helped."  I mean, it at least tripled the length of the task but maybe I didn't have to bend over as much.  Maybe.  

But the real "help" she gave I discovered an hour later.  You see, in the dryer was one of the TWO pairs of maternity pants that fit me (the other was now
soaking wet in the washer) and I needed them so we could leave the house.  But when it came time to leave and I went down to the dryer to grab my pants, I discovered the entire load sopping wet and freezing cold.  

What the ?????  

Yes, after I had set the dryer to "Medium heat"  my dear daughter had turned the knob to "Air fluff."  Air fluff?!?  I didn't even know that setting existed. Someone please tell me why my DRYER needs a setting that does not dry anything. I think it might have made them colder.  And more wet.

So thank you, sweet girl, for your "help" which caused me to say many not-so-sweet words and then dig frantically through my closet for something to wear.  Next time just kick me in the head or something instead. 

And I'm so sorry to all the people at the doctor's office who had to see me in those other pants.  I did try to retire them last trimester. 


[careful] - adjective
1.cautious in one's actions.

"Careful" is another problem word.

Sometimes I use it at the right time, but it doesn't mean what I want it to mean:
I find my self saying hourly,
"Careful! Don't stare down at your own feet while you run!",
"Careful! Don't slide down the stairs in the laundry basket!", 
"Careful! Don't slide down the stairs on a couch cushion!",
"Careful! Don't slide down the stairs on the folded up teepee tent!",

And I know that the word does not mean to them what it should.  I know that in their neanderthal little minds "careful" means "We must be doing something awesome! Keep going before the shrew hobbles over here and physically stops us!"

And rushing to slide down a folded up teepee on the stairs is NOT the definition of "careful."

Sometimes I use it too late and it's almost cruel:
If Belle tries to climb over the coffee table and slips off the side, I hear the big crash and yell, "Belle!  Be careful!!!"  

Nice.  Why don't I just kick her while she's stuck down there between the coffee table and the couch?  Had she mastered sarcasm yet, I'm sure she would come up with some scathing retort.  But instead she just looks at me with those big eyes devastated by my betrayal and starts to cry.

Sometimes it just backfires entirely:
But if I happen to see Belle right before she falls off the coffee table, I yelp, "BELLE!  BE CAREFUL!" so that the child will focus on what she's doing

Of course my screaming has the opposite effect and she whips around to look at me all wide-eyed and I can see her trying to puzzle out what is going on since I usually say that when she's already in pain.  

And that makes her fall. 

I clear things right up by saying, "Honey!  That's why I told you to be careful!" 

And the sheer incomprehensibility of the English language makes her start crying again. 


  1. Those words have totally lost meaning in our home to! I can honestly say there have been times I have hoped to distract my son from "helping" me just so I can get the task done.

  2. How did you get to be so funny? Is there a class you guys are all signing up for and someone forget to pass me the pamphlet?
    Screw the air fluff! I assume it's there to de-stink something that's already been worn. Just throw that smelly shirt in there with 4 Bounce sheets and set in to air fluff and no one will ever know that you are too lazy to actually wash your clothes.

  3. Ha, this is so funny and so TRUE! The words with the least meaning in my house are: "Time to brush your teeth." They only inspire action after I repeat them about 20 times. :P


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