I teach my children that it is not acceptable to say like when it does not mean have a preference for or fancy. You know what I mean – when like means, well, like nothing. You can call me old school or persnickety, but I dislike the overuse of like. I realize that we can’t expect children, or adults for that matter, to speak as if they were writing a PhD dissertation, but like I find it very disconcerting when like someone is speaking to me and like continues to ya know like add these like non-essential words incessantly.
While I cannot personally claim to have carved like out of conversation completely, I know that if I speak slowly and deliberately, I can limit the number of times I use it. That said, the first in-real-life reader who catches me using the filler like and points or smirks gets a pinch right under the arm. Believe Gabriella – that hurts! I promise not to twitch when you abuse like if you promise not to call me out when I say it.
I realize it’s an uphill battle to try to eradicate fillers from our speech. Like has become an accepted part of conversation as has um and uh. Remember when we used to imitate Valley Girl speak for fun, but we didn’t really mean it? Good times.
My mother used to call us out every time we said like or ya know unnecessarily. She was also hugely offended when we used upspeak and turned every statement into a question. According to an article on Psychology Today’s site, the biggest upspeak offenders are women and children as well as, wait for it, people from North Dakota and Minnesota because of the Norwegian language influence, ya know? And even more interesting, if you can imagine, is that upspeak actually “serves conversational purposes, discouraging interruption and seeking reassurance.” So, women and children must use these fillers because we don’t command attention and we’re unsure of ourselves. Hear that, ladies? Stand tall and proud and drop the likes!
Upon further research (read inability to focus leading to surfing on the interWeb for countless hours), I found another article about ums and uhs that identifies the linguistic need to fill conversational delays. I guess that’s another way of letting people know that we still plan to complete a thought even if our minds are still buffering information. Whether it be like or ya know or um or uh, it’s a worthy endeavor to keep those verbal packing peanuts to a minimum.
In terms of my responsibility as a parent, I want the boys to know that there is a time and place. If I don’t teach them these things, I worry that they will appear overly informal during interviews or business meetings or in front of their potential mothers or fathers-in-law. Liking is a very difficult habit to break.
There is a time and place for curse words, too. Believe it or not, Gabriella and I do not use curse words around the boys. We don’t even say the st-word – that word that rhymes with shmupid. Lately, I have been struggling with our own rules, however. Age-appropriate children's books and movies offer up plenty of rude words that we outlawed in our home, and most of the kids in their classes use far more colorful language than they do. A friend recently shared with me that she curses occasionally in front of her children but that she has explained that she’s using grown up words and that they can use them when they’re 18. I like the idea that there is a time and place for appropriate effing and blinding.
I don’t know if 18 is the magic number. Perhaps kids are old enough to swear responsibly when they’re in middle school or after their Bar Mitzvahs as in, “I fuckin’ rocked that haftorah!” Hmm. Still thinking about it. I’m open to your thoughts about kids and curse words though likes are verbal affronts up with which I shall not put.
Speaking of like, have you noticed the LIKE ME ON FACEBOOK button on the right of the page I just added? Scroll up a bit. I’d LIKE to thank all the Peaches & Coconuts followers who have joined me there already, and I encourage those of you who need an invitation to LIKE it, too. Sure feels good to be liked, like, ya know? And if you’re not the type to respond favorably to solicited LIKEs, then let me also tempt you with prizes. I’ll be offering up a Peaches & Coconuts prize in the near future to celebrate the Facebook page, so join me and all the Ps and Cs readers who like the blog and will most likely like you, too because like minds think alike and all that.