Thursday, August 11, 2005


Best Compliment Ever

The Wife’s parents (I’ll call them Howard and Marion, after the Cunninghams) are local and retired, so they see The Boy and The Girl quite a bit. (They’re the unbelievably valuable first line of defense on the babysitting front, among other things. It’s hard to convey to non-parents just how huge that is.)

The Wife’s brother (I’ll call him Biff) is also relatively local, and he and his wife (let’s say, Buffy) have two daughters (Tadpole and The Moppet).* Tadpole and The Moppet are older than The Boy and The Girl, although The Moppet is only a year older than The Boy (and quite a bit shorter).

Tadpole and The Moppet were relatively cool towards Howard when they were little. The Wife and I suspect that it may have been because Buffy was extremely attentive, and Biff was relatively distant. (That dynamic has changed over the years, but it was true early on.) The Boy and The Girl, by contrast, have been happily affectionate towards Howard and Marion from the beginning (from the gecko, as Russian Violets’ students would say).**

Yesterday, in talking with The Wife to plan an outing to a train museum (for which The Boy has already chosen his outfit, with his striped conductor’s hat matching his striped shorts), Marion commented that Howard was really looking forward to it, since The Boy and The Girl are always so happy to see him. Marion added that she thinks they respond to Howard because I’m so involved with them, so they don’t automatically see adult men as scary and distant figures.

This may be the best compliment I’ve ever received.

I won’t deny for a minute that there’s a double standard here – dads get complimented for doing a meaningful fraction of what moms are simply expected to do – but it’s also true that putting in the time and effort takes, well, effort. And it’s hard to get too caught up in academic politics when one of my first tasks upon getting home every day is to wipe somebody’s ass.

Thanks, Marion. I know I’ll hear all about the trains tonight.

*Tadpole and The Moppets would be a great name for a band.

**How does one indicate the possessive of a pseudonym that ends in ‘s’? Russian Violet’s students? That breaks her name up. Russian Violets’ students implies that there are many Russian Violets out there, which doesn’t seem right. The students of Russian Violets? That implies that she is the object of study, which is kind of creepy. Verily, a grammatical pickle.

Wouldn't it be "RussianViolets's students"? It looks funny, but since RussianViolets is singular, simply follow the rule and add an apostrophe followed by an "s". Now there's that pesky period in the previous sentence: inside or outside of the quotation marks?

Great work on the dad front, Dean Dad. Working with children keeps one grounded. I know mine do.
Oh, yeah. Duh. Brain cramp, there.

In my defense, though, Violets's just doesn't look right. It's one of those rules that sounds logical but just doesn't work.

(I have a similar issue with putting question marks and quotation marks next to each other. Which goes where? It gets tricky when you're including a quotation within a question, but the quotation itself is not a question. Example: You expect me to believe that "the dog ate your homework"? Putting the question mark inside the quotes implies that the question mark applies to the quote itself, which it clearly does not. But if the statement ended in a period -- say, delivered sarcastically -- the period would go inside the quotations.

In my defense, bureaucratese is my first language.
Clearly, I need sleep. Add a closed parenthesis above.
What Miranda said... I would treat Russian Violets like a name. Names ending in an s or z get an 's to show possession, unless the name is Jesus or Moses. Because they're special, their possessions are indicated with just an apostrophe.
[Falling out of her desk waving her hand madly in the fashion of Hermione Grainger.] Ooh, ooh, I can answer this:

1. It should be "Violets's" just like Chris's book is the book that belongs to Chris. It looks stupid, but it's right.

2. Commas and periods always fall within quotation marks whereas question marks and exclamation points fall inside when part of the material being quoted and outside when, as in the example you listed, the quotation is external to the citation and added in its reiteration.

Hey, I feel like an English prof or something. :-)

And your story about your kids, again, warmed my heart, Dean Dad. I was even more impressed that you ranked this comment to highly. You are a gem, and I'm telling you that "straight from the gecko."
P.S. 'Tis great to figure prominently on Dean Dad's blog. I'm like...uh...famous or something. Tee hee.
It can also be RussianViolets' (without the second s), but that's only if you're British or whatnot.

One of my students said something of that nature (straight from the gecko) way back when, and now I can't remember what it is...gah!
Being a parent is the greatest gig going!
Quote of the week: "And it’s hard to get too caught up in academic politics when one of my first tasks upon getting home every day is to wipe somebody’s ass."

And I can weigh in on the apostrophe or not issue since my surname end with an S and I've made a bit of a life study of the issue. For a while, the apostrophe without the S was the standard (Russian Violets' students), but increasingly, the use of the extra S has become the norm.

Anyone who reads your blog regularly will see that you are in fact a terrific role model for the Boy. Bravo!
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