I am lousy at casual chit-chat. Not only do a lot of words go to waste in the service of being polite, but most people say things, again and again, that don’t make sense to me. I try not to be so literal, but even if I manage to smile at the inanities, once I escape the social chatter, I go home ranting. People act like they own the language! Here are some oddball phrases that drive me crazy on cranky days.
Adult child. People use this in the caregiving field when talking about the grown offspring of our elderly clients. More clinically, AA types use it to suggest that their immaturity is their alcoholic parents’ fault. In any case it is total nonsensical to me. Children are not adults and adults are not children. I prefer to call clients’ adult offspring their “grown son(s) and/or daughter(s).” Or, I will refer to the younger person as the client’s caregiver, if that’s the case.
Caregiver is in the dictionary now. Having used it for years, I hope I helped to plant it there. But “caregiver” is not “caretaker,” which I still hear. In fact, I think I heard my mother refer to me this way earlier this week. Caretaker is the correct term for a person who is tending property for someone else. Anyway, to apply word logic, the persons receiving care would be the care “takers” if that term were going to apply to human relationships.
Pet parents. I never gave birth to anything with fur.
“I don’t really … play the piano, sing, write,” people say, although they actually can play the piano, sing in a chorus, or write, if they need to. The “really” means they don’t do it as well as someone else, or up to some standard they’ve set for themselves. I play about ten first-grade songs on the piano. But, I REALLY play them!
Something else that bugs me is when people say “Don’t hold back,” or “Why don’t you say how you really feel?” Well, usually, when I hear this, I did just spout off and tell anyone and everyone exactly what I think, without holding back much. Oh, sure they’re trying to be funny. Usually no one is laughing. Do they agree or disagree with me? Are they glad I’m articulate or are they being mean? “Too much information” is another waspy weird comment. There’s never an explanation, but I usually shut up and shut down.
I don’t understand, sometimes, what people mean by “understanding.” “I just don’t understand that!” my old ladies say about things on the news– mass murders, graffiti, or tattoos. Mass murder, no one understands, I guess, though it would probably serve us well to try. What the ladies are expressing is a proud judgment. Translation: “I would never do that!” Certainly they have no curiosity, absolutely no desire to understand rappers or dreadlocks.
I just don’t understand words being so misused. And, yes, that’s how I really feel.