A Debilitating Love of Semantics

Hello.  My name is Tenor Dad, and I am addicted to semantics.  The problem is so bad that I didn’t even realize that it was a problem until my wife pointed it out to me.  I went through life thinking that people wanted to know correct word usage and wished to be clear when speaking.  This is apparently not the case.

In all fairness, I do it to myself all the time, although I am told that even then it is super annoying.  I will often, mid-sentence, correct myself and substitute what I feel is a clearer word or phrase, because I want to make sure I am understood.  And I know I do this to other people as well (mostly my wife), but I don’t mean any harm by it.  I don’t want to imply that I am smarter or better than anyone else, I only want to know exactly what people mean.

Random person: “See you tomorrow night!”
Me: “Wait, what time are we meeting?”
Person: “4:00.”
Me: “Oh, okay, because you said ‘night’ so I wasn’t sure if the time had been changed to later.”
Person: “You know what I meant.”
Me: “No, I legitimately thought for a second that I had the time wrong, because 4:00 is not night.”
Person: “Actually, let’s not meet, because I hate you.”

This has happened to me many times.  But honestly, I often think that perhaps I have some sort of info wrong because of something someone says.  And it is very hard for me to resist correcting people when they commit egregious crimes of semantics, even though I know it is rude and makes people hate me or feel that I am condescending.

But the worst part of all is that I have passed this on to Ruby.  Never have I understood more clearly how annoying I can be, than when I am receiving it all back to me from my children.

Me: “Ruby, can you put your bowl in the dishwasher please?”
Ruby: “No!  This is a plate!”
Me: “Well, it has a pretty high lip.  I would call it more of a bowl.”
Ruby: “No Dad!  It’s a plate!”
Me: “Well, just put it in the dishwasher!  And your glass too.”
Ruby: “This is a cup!”
Me: “What have I done?!”

I can’t tell you how many conversations we have had to this effect.  But the person I feel most badly for is my wife, for not only do I drive her crazy on a daily basis, I have now created little clones to go around bothering her when I am not available.  Edward can’t really talk yet, but when he can…

And so I am trying to let things go.  I will not correct people online when they make some comment in which they are clearly not using the correct terminology.  I will try and guess at people’s intended meaning during conversations, and only ask for clarification if I am super-super-unclear.  And I will try my hardest to get my kids to be less obnoxious.  But I can’t really blame them.  They learned it from watching me.

Posted in Bad Parenting, Parenting, Ruby.


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