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Language Log

Friday, May. 04, 2018 - 8:27 a.m.

I peopled yesterday. My friend from grad school who is a field archaeologist is in town this week and I had dinner with him and his colleague. It went pretty well. His colleague was friendly and talkative and helped the conversation along. I get extra anxious about the transition from a correspondence-based friendship to in person (even though I did know him in person, it has been almost 10 years, so). But it was reasonably comfortable and I heard stories about digging holes and wandering through golf courses.

My mom and I talked yesterday about stuff. It went civilly and I don’t want to rehash it here. Maybe we both have some erroneous assumptions. That she doesn’t fully recognize our expertise when it comes to our own children is still an issue. She defaults to thinking she understands what they are thinking, and her understanding is based on a model of neurotypical children, and when I tell her that that is not what is happening, she doesn’t believe me. We need to get her to where when we tell her to back off of a certain thing, she does, without getting butthurt about it. “Do I have to ask permission for every single thing I say to them?!” She asked incredulously. “No, but when we ask you to stop, please just trust us and stop.”

Also disagreements about what degree of different sort of interactions from grandparents are acceptable. Different people act different ways and you aren’t doing them a favor by insulating them from that, is her argument. Whereas ours is that 1) sure, but if you’re propagating a harmful message, we don’t have to let you do that, and 2) we have a lot more experience recognizing their meltdown triggers and while it’s true you can’t always avoid meltdowns, we’re exhausted and if we can prevent one, we will.

She asked for examples of when she had done the sorts of things we say she does. Every example was met with “but I was joking!” Or “yeah but you/J jumped ALL OVER me for [whatever]”.

I tried to explain that some of what she says in an attempt to control my children is totally lost on them. Like the thing about Easter: They were fighting, and she said, “this is no way to celebrate Easter.” I said, for that to be effective they have to be able to unpack the following: 1. An understanding of what sort of behavior is expected on holidays, 2. Realizing that you’re not doing that, 3. Grandma does not like what you are doing, it is upsetting her 4. You should feel bad about upsetting grandma, you should want to please her. 4. By saying this thing, grandma means that she wants you to change your behavior to match her idea of how children should behave on holidays, so she will be happy with your behavior. I don’t know if that’s all of it, but she 100% didn’t buy that those steps are how that speech act works. I AM A LINGUIST BUT PLEASE IGNORE MY EXPERTISE WHEN IT IS ACTUALLY RELEVANT.

I also tried to explain the difference between guilt and shame, and explained that numerous studies have correlated shame with bad outcomes later in life. Guilt is a positive, shame is NOT. She didn’t buy that either. What the fuck am I even talking for. Act all fucking proud and shit because I have a degree but don’t pull your head out of your ass long enough to hear what I have learned about things using those skills I got when getting my degree.

ANYWAY, it’s Friday, which is meaningless to me, my tattoo has passed peak itchiness, and tomorrow is naked gardening day.

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