Tuesday, August 03, 2010


"Dictionary" is a word my children, 18 and 13, do not recognize as part of their generation's extremely limited lexicon.

I do not understand people who don't use books. My answer to all their questions is always, "Go LOOK IT UP!" We have a huge home library for all uses. And they have been well-trained by me and by their teachers how to use a dictionary. I have a dictionary--many, actually--a whole shelf of them--and always have one by my side. Today's dictionary-by-my-side is the Oxford American (language guide edition), but if someone asks a question I can look it up anywhere in the house, even in the OED, faster than they can find it on the web.

I'm always running over to the boys with dictionary in hand. "Look it up," I suggest, helping with the helpy book. "Nahhhh, that's all right. I'll just go to yourdictionary.com" (and get a brief and not thoroughly explanatory definition, with probably no etymology or language of origin or history).

I suppose what really bothers me the most is not their unwillingness to look something up in a book, but their unwillingness to look up ANYTHING. There's just no intellectual curiosity going on. This is ridiculous in a household where both parents are total chronic bookworms, always reading, always asking questions, always trying to learn something new and doing it all with JOY. We have set the stage and are playing the roles all the time, but we have no audience!

Thing #1 spends all his time composing music on his electronic pianos and the computer, or ruining the guest room by building makeshift recording studios and nailing my favorite blankets to the walls. He never reads anything but IM or Facebook.

Thing #2, at this moment, a regional and national champion swimmer, is Mr. Social Butterfly (hahaha; butterfly, get it?). He is multitasking: addictively texting ALL DAY with multiple girls at once on his phone, eating a whole huge bag of tortilla chips, looking at millions of pictures of himself and the team members that other swimmers have posted on their Facebook accounts, smoothing his curly swimmer hair, looking at Narcissus through the webcam, and listening to Rhapsody streaming music with earphones.

Yesterday, while on the phone texting, of course, he was planning a first date to the movies with a girl who has been a slow burn for the past year or so. I was going to drive him, but not stay, since he was nervous enough and he's a good kid who does not need a chaperone. So as he's texting this girl, he is trying to type the word "chaperone" and asks me how to spell it. (The masculine is "chaperon" and the feminine is "chaperone" and we were talking about a mom coming along.) So I told him how to spell it and he typed it into the phone. THE PHONE'S DICTIONARY did not verify "chaperone," so he concluded that I DID NOT KNOW HOW TO SPELL.

Look it up, a$$hole! Then the inevitable: "How can I look it up if I don't know how to spell it?"



At 8/03/2010 12:22 PM, Blogger Nance said...

Sigh. This was exactly the topic of conversation at our table Friday night: How did our children turn out the way they did when we did not raise them this way? Weren't we told "Read to your children and you will raise LifeLongReaders"? LIARS! I am an English teacher, reader, writer, and read to my kids IN THE WOMB. I bought them shelves and shelves of books. One absolutely DETESTS reading and the other rarely reads now. Both of my kids were raised to clean up their toys and had regular chores their whole lives, unlike their friends. YET--they were complete slobs about their rooms and cars and personal things up until they moved out this summer (in their 20s).

I could go on and on. Who are these children???

At 8/03/2010 12:44 PM, Blogger sputnik said...

Nance, the only answer is--ALIENS.


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