Friday, February 24, 2006

get with the dictionary, mother

Omar's recent post about report cards of yesteryear reminded me of a simple difference in semantics between my mother and i that goes all the way back to the time when i was picking dandelions from the backyard for her and then sobbing later that afternoon when i saw them in the garbage can. (to be fair, i was a little overzealous to show my love and filled the vases with those wilty, polleny, buggy things nearly every day.)

i remember working really hard on drawings or poems or crepe-paper daffodils that my teacher said were 'excellent' or 'magnificent.' i ran home to show my mother, who'd usually say something like, 'that's pretty good, cadiz!' it was always the same, with the 'pretty good.' at first i thought i just had to work harder, color a little more within the lines, make my penmanship a little clearer. but after awhile i started to think i was never going to hear anything better from my mom. one day i asked her what that was about.

'mommy! howcome every time i show you something that's really good, you only say 'pretty good'?'

'what? it's pretty! it's good! it's pretty good!'

'NO! 'pretty good' means 'just okay.' if you really like it you should say 'excellent' or 'magnificent,' mom!'

'fine. that's excellent, cadiz.'

'that's much better.'

my mom is a stubborn lady. she refused to get on the magnificently excellent bandwagon, unless it was dripping with sarcasm. and to this day, when she knows i worked really hard on something and she likes it, she'll tell me it's 'pretty good' just to piss me off. but hell, i'll take what i can get.

10 comments:

Modern Viking said...

I'll say to you what I said to Omar-- I think it's all in the stress. The fact that you used an exclamation point tells me she probably said "That's pretty GOOD!" which I would agree is better than good. Your mommy loves you :)

Popeye said...

Excellent post.

Jon said...

It’s a fine line between what they say and what they mean vs. what you hear and what you think it means…

I like to talk in circles by the way…

Anonymous said...

The ultimate compliment in my home was "coulda been worse..."

Guyana-Gyal said...

Haha, sounds a bit like my mother when she's in the 'right' mood.

I think mothers and daughters have some sort of 'power struggle' going, it's something I see with all my gal pals and their mums. Maybe I'm wrong.

omar said...

This is only partially related, but this post reminded me of what Derek Jeter said his household was like as a kid. He said that they had a "Jeter wall of fame," and that for something to be included on the wall of fame, there had to be a family vote. As a parent, how do you say to your kid, "sure this is good, but it's not wall of fame material"?

But now he's a millionaire and his parents can retire comfortably. Maybe I need to consider a similar strategy...

Syar said...

teachers are generally more supportive. maybe cause they're more liable for being sued for causing mental distress and preventing developmental growth.

this was a pretty good post. and I really mean that. :)

Lia said...

Aw, you know she says that because she loves you and naturally expects that anything you do is perfect. For you to exceed you mom's expectations is, well, pretty GOOD!

Gloria Glo said...

That's funny. I mean - not the part where she makes fun of a kid for her whole life - but the level of snark is really worth notice!

Farah said...

I can totally relate. Great post, preceded by like a year of great posts, i love reading them.