July 14, 2006

Pet Peeves: the cathartic meme

The Friday Five meme from the RevGalBlogPals was particularly cathartic this week.

1. Grammatical pet peeve. It drives me crazy when I hear parents correct their children’s grammar. It just seems so rude. And pointless.

My teenage sons correct me if I make a grammatical error, and that drives me crazy too, which is exactly why they do it. I have the habit of saying, "There's ... some plural noun." Perhaps it's a regional grammatical construction because since Boy in Black first started pointing it out, I noticed that pretty much everyone I know does it. Even my mother. And yes, it's just wonderful to have a smart alec teenager say, "IS THERE some apples? Aren't you an English teacher?"

2. Household pet peeve. I hate it when the kids clean the kitchen counter simply by sweeping dirty dishes into the sink. Do they think the sink is magic and the dishes will disappear? Surely, they must know that hours later, someone will have to take all the dishes back out of the sink, and they will be all stuck together with food and cat food. Ugh.

3. Arts & Entertainment pet peeve. The way Hollywood promotes consumerism. Yes, every woman needs thirty pairs of shoes. Yes, money and clothing and a nice car and a huge house will bring you happiness. I hate how Hollywood portrays dysfunctional relationships as "romantic" (You complete me ... ... ugh) and promotes rigid gender stereotypes. I hate how women are portrayed as sex objects. These pet peeves actually make movie going fun for me, though. I love to go to a movie and then rip it apart. I’ve also been known to make snarky comments all through the movie, which is one of my husband’s pet peeves about me. Isn’t it great how all the pet peeves can be connected?

4. Liturgical pet peeve. Well, I grew up Catholic so I’ve got a whole list. But my top one, of course, the obvious one, the one that is way more than just a pet peeve and more like a major disagreement that has forced me to question and ultimately reject the church I was raised in, is the absence of women clergy at any Catholic Mass.

5. Wild card. When women put themselves down, especially when they say negative things about their bodies. It makes me sad -- and angry at the culture we live in.

Bonus: Things that I do that become other people's pet peeves? Let's see. I will often eat off other people's plates, asking for just a bite or sip of something. Drives my husband crazy. I never finish a drink of anything, always leaving just half an inch in the bottom of the glass. Drives my mother crazy.

I finish other people's sentences if they trail off. Some people don't like that. I am an impulsive, overlapping talker, which drives some people nuts. I am one of the most opinionated people on the planet, and some people don't find that charming. (I am genuinely puzzled by this because I love to talk to opinionated people.)

What else? When I am reading, it is almost impossible to get my attention. You have to say my name loudly, five or six times, in a tone of voice that indicates someone is bleeding before I will put down the book and look up. My kids think that's annoying.

Here’s the nice thing though. For every trait I have that annoys someone in my life, I have at least one friend who finds that trait endearing. Thank goodness for eccentric friends.

30 comments:

BeachMama said...

I think it would be really fun to chat with you in person. It would seem that we have similarities in chatting. Finishing sentences, overlapping, and a little opinionated, I am all of these and more. Somedays, I talk so much so fast, I have to stop and rethink what I am even talking about :).

jo(e) said...

Beachmama: Yes, I bet it would be fun. I love it when I am talking to someone who talks like me because I can just relax and talk like crazy. In other social situations, I have to remind myself to pause and let the other person get a word in. It's more work. What's funny is that I seem to have a lot of quiet introverted friends who are nothing like me. I guess opposites attract.

When my kids were little, some of my friends and I formed a playgroup and pretty much all of us were Italian, Latino, or Jewish. We all talked like crazy, really fast and with lots of hand motions, and it always sounded like an argument even when we were all agreeing with each other. It was such a fun group of friends.

liz said...

I love talking like that.

Marie said...

Ohmygoodness! Can you come talk to me when K gives out? She's quiet(er)and so's her whole family so sometimes I drive them all crazy. And I so identify with the group of friends. Especially if they were loud. I'm not Italian, Latina or Jewish, though. Too bad.

missymusing said...

I agree, Himself (husband) and I love to talk like that, relaxed, like we are teenagers in our own little club (as if I Know what that was like, but it's what I Think it might have been like). And my best friend and I? Like ESP finishing each other's thoughts and sentences.

Very cathartic meme...thanks jo(e)

Songbird said...

I have correcting teenagers, too. It isn't generally grammatical, but it's still irritating!

Rev Dr Mom said...

I am introverted and somewhat quiet, but when I am with someone I am really comfortable with, I have the same talking habits--almost as if I have to make up for the quiet times.

I eat off my kid's plate, too, and LD#2 is FAMOUS for not EVER finishing a drink, so much so that the phrase "doing a LD#2" means leaving the last inch or so in the class, no matter how much was in the glass to start with or how large or small the glass.

Shelly said...

I'm guilty of #1! I do not think it's rude, and I definitely don't think it's pointless.

Altough your personal recollection is an instance that isn't extreme, I've seen some of our Southern proclivities translated into writing, and it's a damned shame and it really inhibits their writing.

I correct my children regularly. THey hang around enough people who aren't doing it.

Kathryn said...

Another overlapper/finisher of sentences here...It's the MyersBriggs "N" in me...jump straight from A to Z because I intuit exactly where things are going. Except when I'm wrong, of course :-)
I wasnt going to play this week, but perhaps I should after all!

jo(e) said...

Shelly: Oh, I should have explained what I meant when I said that it was pointless. See, that is another thing that I do that is probably a pet peeve of just about everyone who knows me. I toss off opinions in a single sentence, with no explanation, and expect everyone to understand what I mean.

I was thinking about studies done in the field of composition. (As you know, I teach writing.) It used to be an accepted practice for writing teachers to mark up their students' papers, circling every grammatical error, with the idea that students would then learn proper grammar from this. But when studies were done on actual students, it turns out that all this practice does is create cautious, scared writers who write in a simplistic boring way because they are afraid of making mistakes. So the practice makes students worse writers, not better writers.

Correcting grammar does not give students the confidence they need to experiement with writing, to to try more complicated forms and complex sentences.

I think it's the same thing with kids. They will learn the English language from what they hear and what they read. I think correcting their grammar can do more harm than good if what we want are self-confident, articulate kids.

One of the reasons that this became a pet peeve of mine, I think, is because people around me know that I am an English teacher, and so I think parents have a real tendency to correct their children's grammar when I am around because they think I will think that is the right thing to do. I think it's a common assumption that correcting a kid's grammar is good parenting. So I am challenging that assumption.

Chip said...

Sounds just like my daughter (the chatterbox) and my wife, they love to talk. Once when she was about 10 my daughter was talking and talking. She stopped, turn to me and said, "dad, I just love to talk."

I love the category "liturgical peeves." I'd agree with you on that, as a lapsed Catholic myself. That really hit home when we started going to church when my daughter was little. There were no women on the altar, and I realized the kind of "modeling" that was going on was not what I wanted my daughter to learn from. So we talked to her about it but ended up leaving (because of that but also for other reasons).

jo(e) said...

Hey, Chip, I think we have a lot in common. Not the least of which is that we are both surfing blogs at 7 am on a Saturday morning.

seadragon said...

I like this meme. One of the things I'm working on is my knee-jerk corrections of my husband's grammar. I know how annoying it is, but sometimes I can't help it. It's not really grammar, it's that he makes up words (not on purpose), which can be entertaining in the right company, but... Poor guy.

I used to finish other people's sentences but managed to stop almost completely after being in the company of a job candidate who would sentence-finish, but not wait for a person to trail off AT ALL. And she'd make up her own endings and then say, "I KNOW!!" and start changing the subject to whatever she wanted to talk about. Since then I've improved my wait time.

RE: your liturgical pet peeve-- have you read any of Sister Joan's work? She's a Benedictine nun and I heard her on NPR and started reading "Called to Question." I like her.

ccw said...

I am also an opinionated, overlapping talker and I speak quickly. All of these things drive my husband crazy, but my best friend and I manage just fine with both of us talking and interrupting.

I do the opposite with a glass, I never fill it completely full. I spill drinks so frequently that I have the habit of leaving an inch or two unfilled. This drives everyone in my house crazy because I give them "little" cups of everything.

DaniGirl said...

Ooo, good meme... gonna try to work this one in, but I had to laugh about the last inch of drink left in the glass. It drives my husband batshit that I do this. He seems to think I do it intentionally, mostly just to drive him batshit, but frankly, I'm oblivious to the fact that I do it. I guess that last inch just never tastes as good as the first inch? Or maybe, having preschoolers in the house, I can say I never want to know what might be hiding in the murky depths of the last dregs of the cup?

Manorama said...

I agree with your Wild Card response, though what bothers me even more is when women say negative things about one another's bodies (part of the same root cause--insecurity, a toxic culture around body image, etc). It's not only self-destructive, but it ruins opportunies for women to form relationships with one another. I hate it.

Shelly said...

jo(e),

I think I still disagree. I teach students (though by no means as long as you possibly have) composition and developmental composition, and I see teachers who deduct ten points for every fragment or run-on or other major grammatical error such as subject/verb disagreement, and I think it is very much my responsibility to focus on grammar in the writing. I've found that teaching structure (the five paragraph essay, much debated and discussed) instills confidence and I firmly believe that drilling and repetitive exercises can help students who believe they have no writing ability whatsoever.

As to children, I draw on this: the first time (insert rolling eyes emoticon) that my eldest was called to the principal's office, the first thing that she had to say about him was, My, he's verbal for a four-year-old.

comebacknikki said...

I teach English and I'm definitely guilty of playing grammar cop, but I cannot stop myself from using the phrase "a whole nother." It's quite sad.

jo(e) said...

Shelly: Oh, I think there's probably lots of different ways to effectively teach writing. I think different students learn in different ways, and students can learn different valuable things from teachers with different styles and methods.

I was forced to teach the five-paragraph essay (and other formula types of writing) back in the 1980s when Sheridan Baker was all the rage among composition teachers, and I found it very limiting.

I was thinking of parents I know who worry that if they don't correct their young children's grammar every time they make a mistake, their children will grow up sounding illiterate for the rest of their lives. I guess I am trying to reassure those parents that they can relax. If they encourage their children to learn to love reading, they will learn the language. I never corrected my children's grammar, and they learned to speak English just fine.

zelda1 said...

I so hate the dishes in the sink thing and Mr. Zelda and the Good Son both do that in the pretense of helping me out. Yeah, help me out, by, making another huge mess that I have to clean up. I suppose my worst pet peeve and I've noticed a lot since Baby came to live with us and I am in contact with a lot of toddlers and their parents, I hate it when parents take their toddler to the park and expect that toddler to play while they sit on the bench and read or talk on their cell. The poor children always end up at me feet because I actually play with BAby. Why even bother going to the park if you aren't going to play with the kids. The park slide and swings are only good for about five minutes of fun, what's really fun is making wreaths out of wild flowers, or looking at the bees or butterflies or playing in the sand or playing ball or riding the little scooter while Nan says good job. Another major pet peeve is parents who yell at their poor child all the time they are at the park or in the restaraunt. Geeze do they ever let up?

jo(e) said...

Seadragon: I haven't read Sister Joan. I will have to look her up.

Manorama: Oh, yes. That drives me crazy too. And you are right, that it's part of the same cultural problem. Women are taught to hate their bodies, to think they are competing with other women, etc. Ugh.

Danigirl: Perhaps that is what is behind my not wanting to drink the last inch -- fear of finding something disgusting at the bottom of the cup. Kind of like when I am swimming in murky water and I instinctively just stay near the top ....

jo(e) said...

Hey, Zelda1: We are posting at the same time again. You and I must have similar schedules.

Yeah, that is probably the worst part about the dishes-in-the-sink thing -- the assumption they make that what they have done COUNTS AS CLEANING. That drives me nuts.

Shelly said...

jo(e), Well, we all have different backgrounds that so often shape our opinions. My mother was uneducated (I am a FGCS) and to this day, listening to her talk with double negatives embarrasses me.

jo(e) said...

Shelly: It's funny how much our backgrounds influence us. My mother is also uneducated (a girl simply did not go to college back in her day, even if she was the smartest in her high school class), but she is very articulate and a terrific writer. She loves to read, and all those books educated her. So not a surprise that I am always going on and on about how teaching your kids to love reading is the most important thing ....

joanna said...

Shelly and jo(e)--my mother's southern family dove into education to escape poverty, but I don't recall ever being ashamed of the cousins who didn't speak standard English. I thought it was cool. I don't mean to disregard your points, Shelly, because I think that southerners are one of our national scapegoats--and are depicted as boobs in popular media.
Regarding teaching, I agree with jo(e) that there are many ways to teach well, and so much depends on who and where you are teaching. In developmental, some students don't have any idea of grammar or correctness, so when you point out mistakes, you're helping them learn the language of grammar(assuming that you're teaching them the basics as well). In other courses, students may have a stronger sense of grammar and be able to correct their errors because they can see them as errors and not simply as words with red circles and letters next to them.
Jo(e), your comment"One of the reasons that this became a pet peeve of mine, I think, is because people around me know that I am an English teacher, and so I think parents have a real tendency to correct their children's grammar when I am around because they think I will think that is the right thing to do," reminded me of my pet peeve, which is the jokey way people recoil when they hear that I teach English--I'll bet every English teacher reading this has heard some variation of this comment: "Oooh, I'd better watch my grammar around you." "Shit yeah," I reply, though the phrase addresses diction and not grammar.

joanna said...

Seadragon, I've been listening to Simplyaudio's downloads of talks that Sister Joan Chittister gave at a Chatauqua, and one of them, about Eve, addresses what you and jo(e) are discussing. She is hilarious and so very, very smart. I especially love how she says that she combats sexism in the church by editing handouts and hymns and then writing that she'll be happy to donate money to the church when it recognizes that she exists. Then she signs her name and address and pops it in the collection basket. Sister Joan also edits (out loud) the Apostle's Creed during mass so that the pronouns are plural and gender neutral. My favorite part of her speech is when she describes the women who say "I don't mind." Her imitation is devilish, but her point is well taken--these are women who are oppressed and don't know it, or who fear the repercussions of speaking out.

Poor Mad Peter said...

I teach adult literacy, and one of the basic premises of adult literacy is that spoken English ("dialect") and written English ("Standard") are two different languages.

We are there to teach Standard English so that our students will write good resumes and be able to read government forms and the newspaper with discernment etc etc. Bonus--Standard English is standard across the planet, so it's a real "world" lingo we're promoting.

Correcting spoken English is necessary only in cases of possible confusion (like misplaced antecedents). I don't call it rude, being a parent, but it's a waste of time and energy, yes.

Now, written English, that's a whole different matter, and even if I'm writing almost in dialect, I am passionate about correctly rendered Standard English. Like so many, but not enough as yet, I have declared Open Season on unnecessary apostrophes.

Shelly said...

Jo(e), that must have been great! My mom didn't read anything and still doesn't (aside from the paper). She's never been that articulate, and she sends me emails with lots of ellipses in between her thoughts. I love her very much, but it's difficult that my kids' vocabulary surpassed hers when they were very young.

Obviously, I agree with you on reading. One of the things that I'm interested in where I teach is trying to team-teach a developmental read-writing course. If I get that far. ;)

Rana said...

I'm not going to touch the grammar thing -- I am so weird and casual in my speaking (versus my writing) that I wouldn't have a leg to stand on, if I became a grammar critic.

I just wanted to chime in with the happy boisterous chorus of overlapping talkers and interrupters and sentence-finishers. D. and his immediate family are very. slow. talk-ers. who. like. to. speak. in. long. complex. sentences. with. many. sub. themes. and. it. drives. me. nuts. knowing. that. the. thought. I. had. at. the. be. gin. ning. of. the. sen. tence. will. either. be. for. got. ten. or. ren. dered. ir. rel. evant. by. the. time. they. reach. the. end.

D and I have worked out a degree of accommodation, in that I try not to interrupt too much, and make an effort to remind him where I broke in so he can continue his thought, and he tries to speak in shorter sentences.

(His mother, on the other hand... lately she's been correcting me in public about my interruptions -- and, damn, that is one of MY pet peeves. I've been "forgetting" what I wanted to say, in a very pointed manner, as a sort of passive-aggressive maneuver to register my displeasure, and derail the conversation, in the wake of these corrections. Yes, I'm being rude, but I think scolding someone like a child for interrupting -- especially when he or she is NOT your child -- is even more rude. There are better ways to slow me down than berating me.)

halloweenlover said...

I'm an overlapping enthusiastic talker too! Maybe this is another trait we have in common!