Tag Archives: Nerd

Nerd + Nerd = More Nerds

What’s a Mom to do when she’s too lazy busy to write new material??  Why, trot out some old stuff, of course.  (Most of you probably weren’t around when this post first appeared, so that means it’s new to you, right??)

So, back because I don’t have anything new by popular demand:  Nerd + Nerd = More Nerds.

Hope you enjoy!

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{ Source: Sony Pictures Animation }

nerd   (noun \ˈnərd\):  an unstylish, unattractive, or socially inept person; especially : one slavishly devoted to intellectual or academic pursuits

(Yes, I looked it up.  It’s what I do.)

My Little Guy came home from school a few days ago in a bad mood.  He went up to his room to sulk for a little while, then appeared in the kitchen a few moments later, ready to talk about it.

Him:  I’m glad I’m not going back to that school next year.

Me:  (Concerned look.)  Why?

Him:  Because they have too many bullies.

Me:  (Seething.)  What happened?

Him:  The popular kids were calling me and my friends names.

Me:  (Seething more.) What did they call you?

Him:  Nerds.

Me:  (Sympathetic look.)  Aww.

You must understand, “aww” was the word that came out of my mouth, but my brain was saying “yessss!”  For I know the path of a nerd.  And it turned out just fine for me.

You see, I’m a nerd.  To be specific, I’m an English Nerd.  My husband is also a nerd.  He’s a Computer Nerd.  Turns out that when two nerds marry and have kids, guess what their offspring turn out to be.  You got it…more nerds.

Now I use the term with great affection.  Many of my closest friends are nerds.  (Go figure.)  But coming to terms with being a nerd is a long process.  And my Little Guy just isn’t there yet.  It’s my job to get him there.

When my kids read this (…who am I kidding, they don’t read my blog…) they’re not going to be happy.  Having one’s mom tell the world you’re a nerd can’t be good for adolescent self-esteem, but deep down I think the two older kids already know.

As for the Little Guy, I’ll tell him over and over that he shouldn’t listen to what other people say.  I’ll reinforce the philosophy that “it’s what’s inside that matters.”  I’ll remind him that he has many friends who like him just the way he is.  But he’ll still want to be more like the  popular kids.  And he’ll want to be one of them.  It’s part of growing up.

This week is my College Boy’s Spring Break.  (Some of my friends have been expressing woe over their kids going to the beach for Spring Break.  I can’t even imagine that level of worry.)  When he said he planned to stay home, I was quite relieved.  Then a magical thing happened:  his girlfriend came to our house, and tucked under her arm was a physics book.  I almost cried.  They spent the afternoon at the dining room table with laptops and physics books. He has (at least on a sub-conscious level) realized he’s a nerd, embraced it, and is seeking out others like him.  The circle of life is complete for that one.

The wild-card among my children appears to be the Middle Child.  He has cool hair, a quick wit, and a free spirit.  He plays two team sports.  This apple may roll a little farther from the tree than the others.  (He’ll probably be a Democrat.)  But he did set his alarm for 3:30 A.M. a few days ago to wake up and study for a Latin test, so he’s clearly showing nerdy tendencies.

Raising a house full of nerds has made me happier and prouder than I ever could have imagined.  I’ve realized that the world has enough Alpha Males.  It needs more Nerds.  It needs more people who value intelligence over attention and substance over style.  I’m happily doing my part for the greater good!

So, to all the popular girls who called me names in high school, thank you.  (I’m sure some of you turned out nicely, too.)

Talk Nerdy to Me — Part I

They’re irritating and overused.  Like the sound of fingernails of a blackboard, I cringe when I hear them.  We’ve all got a few on our personal lists, but there are a handful that are universally accepted as obnoxious.  Annoying phrases are everywhere.

Source: universecityblog.wordpress.com

I know I’m not the only one who wishes many of these phrases and words would go away.  I know there are others like me out there who long for a return to a more genteel manner of speaking.  (Now, I don’t want to swing to the opposite extreme.  I don’t need to ask my son “with whom he will be going to the movies.”)  But I would embrace the renaissance of a few polite and well-mannered phrases to replace some of the ones I feel just have to go.

The number one offender: “(I/she/he) was like.”  Attention teenagers: this is not a verb phrase.  If you want to describe what someone says, does, or feels, there are verbs for that purpose.  Please learn how to use them.

Fusion words: combining two words, then dropping a syllable or two because you’re too lazy to say the whole thing.  “ ‘Sup?” is the number one offending word in this category, but there are many, many more. “Dja-eat?” (“Did you eat?”)  If the statement or question requires two words, please speak them both.  Having a conversation reduced to a few grunted syllables is just rude and makes you sound like a cave man.

Overuse of the word, “Whatever.”  This non-committal word usually means the responder disagrees with what you’re saying, but doesn’t have the energy or vocabulary to respond appropriately.  Parents, beware.  It does not imply agreement.  It’s a verbal tool teenagers use to stop a conversation.

Interrogative words: What happened to them?  Questions should begin with words like how, may, why, or did.  Raising the pitch at the end of a phrase and inserting a question mark does not constitute a question. (“You went to the store?”)

The dreaded “No offense, but…”  This phrase should just be stricken.  No good can come of anything said after that phrase.  This disclaimer does not give you license to say rude or ugly things, just because you’ve preceded the insult with a feigned politeness.  Using the Southern cousin, “Bless his/her heart” (as in, “My aunt is crazy, bless her heart.”) after a put-down is just as offensive.  Don’t do it.

Now, I realize that language is an evolving entity.  Today’s vernacular is significantly different from that of just a few decades ago.  Therefore — as with all things – this, too, shall pass.  I just hope I live long enough to hear it happen.

For now, if you see me around and want to chat, avoid these phrases. Speak in complete sentences and leave out some of the slang.  Let your language bear some resemblance to the mother tongue we learned in school.  Please talk nerdy to me.

Which phrases make your head spin?  Please share if I’ve left out the one that makes your head spin!

Coming soon: Part 2 – Nerdy words, and how to use them.

Indulge me while I beam.

Right now I’m sporting a grin that I don’t think will fade any time soon.  Yesterday, Mr. Wonderful and I went to LSU to retrieve The Trailblazer and all his smelly, college boy stuff, and accompany him home for the summer.  As I write, he’s sprawled out on the couch, exhausted from the marathon of finals week, with the remote in one hand and the dog tucked under the other arm.  It’s hard to believe that the year is over.

The feelings I’m having right now are very new, and I’m not sure I know what to do with them.  What I want to do is stand in the street and brag to every passer-by about my incredible son.  But that would probably run off a few friends, embarrass my son, and be in violation of my neighborhood association’s rules.  (But it’s what I really want to do.)  So since I’ve gathered up all these readers here, I’ll bore you for just a few minutes while I indulge this maternal need to talk about my boy.

The Lucky Mom and The Firstborn. (Isn't he handsome??)

I’ve lived this last year in a strange, new place.  Anxiety and pride huddled side by side, competing for my emotional space.  Worries about how he’d handle his new independence, whether or not he’d practice basic hygiene, and hoping most of all that he’d maintain the GPA necessary to keep his free-ride scholarships intact.  My maternal pride wanted to boast to anyone who’d listen about his great accomplishments, but my anxiety kept me keenly aware that he was just one good fraternity party away from having it all go down the tubes.

It seems bad timing for college freshmen to be delivered to their new lifestyle at the beginning of football season.  Any Tiger Fan will attest that Death Valley in the fall is an intense experience.  So the vibes I was getting at the beginning of the year didn’t make me feel any better about the Big Three Worries I was having.  But he made it through the first semester with good grades, no police record, and no injuries requiring stitches or hospitalization.  His second semester schedule was pretty ambitious, but he carried the load beautifully (got even better grades than the first semester!) and ended the year more grown up than I could have imagined.  My worries about him taking his future seriously were put to rest when he asked me and his dad recently if “we would mind” if he added a minor in Aerospace Engineering to his Mechanical Engineering major.

The only point I feel I need to continue fretting over is his standard of living.  Perhaps I just don’t remember how skanky college life is (or maybe he’s just gross) but that boy’s dorm room was plain old nasty when we got there to move him out.  As he’ll be in an apartment with 3 other guys next year, I’m hoping someone in the group will be able to exert a bit of influence over him, and reform the really bad habits he developed this year.  But as I write these words, a great sense of relief rushes over me.  Because if I had to be let down on one of my Big Three Worries, that’s the best one.

So for the next few days I’ll be strutting around like a Really Proud Mama.  I’ll cook his favorite foods and fluff his pillows and be glad he’s under the same roof as us a while.  When the newness wears off and he starts aggravating his brothers, I’m sure look at the calendar and figure out how many more weeks til he heads back.  But for now, if you should bump into me, and I’m beaming, you’ll know why.

It is Meat and Drink to Me*

As I’ve already professed to the world that I consider myself a Nerd, it will come as no big shock to hear that I love to read.  As a nerdy kid, my social skills were a little lax, so being with 3-dimensional people was sometimes awkward.  Thus began my friendship with the local librarian.  The Wagner Library was about 6 blocks from my house, and (back in the day when you could let a little girl roam about unsupervised) I went there almost every day.

Check out that first edition Bobbsey Twins novel! It's OK to be jealous!

5 was the number of books you were allowed to check out in one day, and 5 was the number of books I went home with most of the time.  Several times a week I’d trot back for more.  After exploring the library and reading different things, I determined that I liked non-fiction best, and after exhausting all the books that “interested” me, I set out to read the entire library.  That proved to be a little ambitious (even for me), so I narrowed my scope down to Sections 920 through 998:  Biographies and History.  And I started reading them in order.

My love affair with reading continued through high school, and when it came time to declare a major, I stumbled on something in the curriculum guide that seemed too good to be true:  A Liberal Arts degree, with concentrations in Literature and History.  I studied Shakespeare, Moliere, and my favorite author– Emerson.  My husband fell in love with me over Hawthorne’s Young Goodman Brown(He’ll probably deny that, but I know the truth.)  I delved into Russian and European history with zeal, and actually worked as a research assistant on a book called The Artist as Politician, relating the role of art in the politics of 19th century France.

A few of the "Little Kid Favorites" we keep on the shelf. The rest are in boxes (many, many boxes) in storage.

Then something happened.  I had kids.  And the pursuits I loved so much before took a back burner to their pursuits, and I stopped reading.  Well, I didn’t stop altogether.  I just stopped reading books with big words and no illustrations.  I read what they read.  We started with Dr. Seuss, and worked our way up through J.K. Rowling and Lemony Snicket.  One summer I read the entire Lloyd Alexander series, The Chronicles of Prydain (which I highly recommend!) with The Middle Child.  Reading and sharing it with him gave me great joy, and I vowed I’d start reading again, but it was a promise I didn’t keep.

Then a funny thing happened.  The kids grew up.  And I rediscovered my favorite pastime!  Now I have 20 years of catching up to do, so I’m taking it kind of slow, but I’m proud to say that in the last few months I’ve finished TWO BOOKS!  Actual hardbacks, with no pictures!  The kids had to fend for themselves a couple of times, and I left clothes in the dryer overnight.  But I finished!  (Sounds like a small feat to those without kids and a house and a dog and a mother-in-law, but it’s a huge accomplishment for me!)  So What I Read will become a part of The Lucky Mom’s new world, and I’ll be accountable to my followers to keep it interesting!

(In case you’re interested, the two books, Jane Boleyn: The True Story of the Infamous Lady Rochford by Julia Fox and Tina Fey’s new memoir Bossypants, will be reviewed under the tab at the right, What I Read.

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*“It is meat and drink to me…” — William Shakespeare, As You Like It (1616)

Nerd + Nerd = More Nerds

{ Source: Sony Pictures Animation }

nerd   (noun \ˈnərd\):  an unstylish, unattractive, or socially inept person; especially : one slavishly devoted to intellectual or academic pursuits

(Yes, I looked it up.  It’s what I do.)

The Caboose came home from school a few days ago in a bad mood.  He went up to his room to sulk for a little while, then appeared in the kitchen a few moments later, ready to talk about it.

Him:  I’m glad I’m not going back to that school next year.

Me:  (Concerned look.)  Why?

Him:  Because they have too many bullies.

Me:  (Seething.)  What happened?

Him:  The popular kids were calling me and my friends names.

Me:  (Seething more.) What did they call you?

Him:  Nerds.

Me:  (Sympathetic look.)  Aww.

You must understand, “aww” was the word that came out of my mouth, but my brain was saying “yessss!”  For I know the path of a nerd.  And it turned out just fine for me.

You see, I’m a nerd.  To be specific, I’m an English Nerd.  My husband is also a nerd.  He’s a Computer Nerd.  Turns out that when two nerds marry and have kids, guess what their offspring turn out to be.  You got it…more nerds.

Now I use the term with great affection.  Many of my closest friends are nerds.  (Go figure.)  But coming to terms with being a nerd is a long process.  And my Little Guy just isn’t there yet.  It’s my job to get him there.

When my kids read this (…who am I kidding, they don’t read my blog…) they’re not going to be happy.  Having one’s mom tell the world you’re a nerd can’t be good for adolescent self-esteem, but deep down I think the two older kids already know.

As for The Caboose, I’ll tell him over and over that he shouldn’t listen to what other people say.  I’ll reinforce the philosophy that “it’s what’s inside that matters.”  I’ll remind him that he has many friends who like him just the way he is.  But he’ll still want to be more like the  popular kids.  And he’ll want to be one of them.  It’s part of growing up.

This week is my College Boy’s Spring Break.  (Some of my friends have been expressing woe over their kids going to the beach for Spring Break.  I can’t even imagine that level of worry.)  When he said he planned to stay home, I was quite relieved.  Then a magical thing happened:  his girlfriend came to our house, and tucked under her arm was a physics book.  I almost cried.  They spent the afternoon at the dining room table with laptops and physics books. He has (at least on a sub-conscious level) realized he’s a nerd, embraced it, and is seeking out others like him.  The circle of life is complete for that one.

The wild-card among my children appears to be Slick, the middle child.  He has cool hair, a quick wit, and a free spirit.  He plays two team sports.  This apple may roll a little farther from the tree than the others.  (He’ll probably be a Democrat.)  But he did set his alarm for 3:30 A.M. a few days ago to wake up and study for a Latin test, so he’s clearly showing nerdy tendencies.

Raising a house full of nerds has made me happier and prouder than I ever could have imagined.  I’ve realized that the world has enough Alpha Males.  It needs more Nerds.  It needs more people who value intelligence over attention and substance over style.  I’m happily doing my part for the greater good!

So, to all the popular girls who called me names in high school, thank you.  (I’m sure some of you turned out nicely, too.)

Family Expectations

Note:  This post was moved from another page on the blog…  You’re not crazy.  You may have read it before.

My family has gone through a lot of transformation in the last few years.  My husband’s deployment to the Middle East, kids growing up and going off to college, little boys turning into big kids, and aging grandparents have all caused some unanticipated growing pains for us all.  So recently I felt the need to develop a new family policy.

In the “olden days,” things became law when they were posted in the town square for all to see.  It was understood that a citizen’s responsibilities included checking the designated wall from time to time to keep up with the changes, and to act accordingly.  In our house, the equivalent of that town wall is the refrigerator.  The left side of the fridge is for scheduling.  My integrated calendar hangs on that side, with each family member’s activities merged into one place.  The right side of the fridge is for policy.  When mom has a message for the family, that’s where it goes.  And the bigger it is, the more importance it bears.  And when it’s in colors – well, you just better read it and be ready to discuss it at dinner.

If I’ve learned nothing else as the only female in my household, it’s that I think differently than they do.  My girly sensibilities about being nice, sharing and the like don’t translate well to the guys.  But, still, I felt the need to restore a bit of gentility to my home, so started a list.   I pondered the lists in pop culture that state things that everyone should already know.  The one that seemed to have started it all was Robert Fulghum’s 1988 credo All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.  Simple instructions – like Play Fair, Don’t Hit People, and Don’t Take Things That Aren’t Yours – that too many people seem to have forgotten (if they ever knew them to begin with).  The list I read most recently was Gretchen Rubin’s 12 Rules of Adulthood in her book The Happiness Project.  Hers are less practical and more existential, but still strike at the heart of kindness, honesty and fairness, in an introspective way.

As I considered the purpose of my list – to promote harmony in my household – I had to keep it on the practical side.  The males who live in this house don’t really like it when I speak in code, and I don’t really like it when they don’t understand me, so I figured I’d better be direct. Thus the list entitled “Family Expectations” was born.  Printed neatly on a small poster-sized page, each item in a different color, I’d used all the tools in my bag to express to them that this was important to me.  I even taped it to the fridge about 4’ off the ground, so it would be eye level to the youngest reader.  I went further, and de-cluttered the top of the fridge, so it wouldn’t be lost in the visual chaos that sometimes creeps up.

Family Expectations:

Be happy.

Cooperate with others.

Show respect.

Communicate without anger.

Act responsibly.

Be honest.

Pick up after yourself.

Forgive.

I chose not to make the customary announcement about the new posting, but to let it come to me from each of them in their own way.  While one or two of them may have chosen not to bring it up, I knew they all saw it, so my message was delivered.  Whether it would bring about a change in behavior I’d have to wait and see.  I didn’t think any of the entries were unreasonable, and all were things that a loving family should do anyway, so I had no need to feel like this was an abusive request.

The first day went by without remark.  The second day one of the kids made a sarcastic crack, actually using one of the posted expectations to extort a desired behavior from his brother.  (NOT what I had in mind.)   On the third day my youngest son drew a picture on the list, and added a few items.  (Again, not what I had in mind.)  The dialogue I imagined never happened, but my point was made.

I get these dreamy visions sometimes, of my family having an intellectual discussion about matters that are of importance to me, taking them seriously, ending with a big group hug of confirmation.  But that never happens.  So I have to accept that we are not the uber-polite, Stepford-family in my visions.  My kids argue, don’t clean their rooms without threats, pull tricks not to eat their vegetables, and sneak electronic devices under the covers after bedtime.  But they also do their homework, eat dinner at the table with their parents, go to their little brother’s school play on a Saturday night, and are generally good kids.   And we love each other.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I’m such a Lucky Mom!