How to Effectively Use the 2nd Person “We” (Parental Communication Tip #427)

You’ve heard of the royal We? It’s all too present in seminarian papers with just a single author:

queen elizabethCareful consideration of the textual data leads us to conclude….


We read with the majority of scholars in this case that….

And then there is simply, “We are not amused.”

a gold starFor some time now my wife and I have had the materials in hand to make a star chart for our five-year-old son. Through this chart we (actual We) seek to motivate him to do what is right (treat us with respect, pee when he has to instead of holding it) and not what is wrong (tell his younger brother to “Go to jail!”, get the Gorilla glue out without asking). Good behavior earns stars, and multiple stars earn a new Wild Kratts DVD, or (better yet) a trip out for coffee with Dad or Mom. (The no longer jail-threatened brother stays at home.)

But we still haven’t made the chart. So tonight at dinner I said to my wife, “Can we make our son’s star chart this weekend?”

To which she replied, “Can you make the star chart this weekend?”

I actually had meant We literally in this case, but I can see why she thought I was using the 2nd person We, asking her to do the chart. It’s a special grammatical usage that often crops up around here:

  • #1/Me: Honey, can we make some time to do the laundry this weekend? (Translation: I’m out of clean undershirts for work; will you wash them?)
  • #2/She: Abram, can we try to keep our clothes hung up around here? (Translation: Why are you strewing your jacket, dress pants, etc., etc. all across the bed so I can’t sleep in it?)
  • #3/She: Can we clear our dishes from the table when we’re done with breakfast? (Translation: AM I YOUR MAID?)
    towels. clean towels.
  • #4/Me: Sweetheart, could we possibly distinguish between a hand towel and a drying towel? (Translation: What’s with this MASSIVE HEAP OF UNDIFFERENTIATED MOSTLY WET TOWELS ON THE COUNTER?)

See? It’s softer, gentler, more effective. In #1 above, my wife sees right through my alleged effort at mutual janitorial cooperation. In #2, I know that she’s really trying for some cleanliness equity. In #3, well… if I expect our kids to clear their dishes, I ought to do the same. As for #4? Please expect a future post to address the merits of keeping separate the towels you use to dry clean dishes versus dirty hands.

But enough blogging about it. We’ve got a chart to make for Our son.

Apocalyptic Dialogue with my 5-Year-Old Son

flaming plane

It went like this:

Me: These Duplos have eyes all over them. It’s like a creature from Revelation.

He: What’s Revelation?

Me: It’s a book in the Bible. There are all sorts of creatures in it. Dragons, too. It will be a great book for you to read sometime, maybe when you are older.

He: Why?

Me: It’s a little bit scary.

He: Is there a movie?

Well, yes, son, there is a movie. Quite a lot of them, in fact. But we’ll start with the book first.

He’s started on chapter books with us, though, so we’ve been able to begin tackling some fun stories, like this. Revelation, perhaps, later.

Traveling Mercies

K-J tree table
Thing 1 and Thing 2

The first thing I noticed when we got to my parents’ new home in South Carolina was the smell of the pines. The boys spent time outside there almost every day these last two weeks–the “cold” days there were high 40s, low 50s. It was truly good to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s with beloved and loving family. I thought I’d miss “our” beach, but the woods made a fine substitute.

(Of course, as I watch the sun rise over the water and type back at home, I’m grateful for the living room ocean view.)

One cause for prayer before traveling to see family is traveling logistics. How will the kids do on the plane? In the car on the way to the airport? Will they skip naps due to travel, and will this mean utter mayhem later?

But on the way home yesterday, on the plane, this happened:

K-Js sleeping on plane
Thing 3 sleeps on Thing 2, who sleeps on me

Great logistics, great trip. I’m thankful for my family, and so glad we K-Js got to be with them these last two weeks.

The family bedtime rules

BedrailNot long ago we began instituting “the bedtime rules” for our two boys. The idea was to have a sequence of rules (steps, really) for the boys to follow once in bed that would provide consistency and direction each night. They were:

1. Put your head on your pillow.

2. Close your eyes.

3. Go to sleep.

Our 5-year-old added a couple, so now they read:

1. Put your head on your pillow.

2. Close your eyes.

3. Put your arms and your legs down.

4. Close your mouth.

5. Go to sleep.

Some nights, by the time I’m done with bedtime, I think the bedtime rules really just sound like:

1. Please stop talking.

2. Stop talking.

3. Stop talking right now.

4. Stop talking or I’m not going to sing to you anymore tonight.

5. SHHHH!!!!!

They will put themselves to sleep on their own eventually, right?

State of the Blog Address: Why I (continue to) blog

blogging wordle

Sure, I picked a strange time to start this blog: just weeks before the birth of our third daughter. But I had good reason(s) to, as I enumerated here. Looking back on that blogging minifesto (you heard that word here first), not much of my reasoning for blogging has changed:

  • It’s a creative outlet for me, a chance to turn all the input I receive in life into output that hopefully helps others
  • I am able to receive gratis review copies of books from various publishers
  • I use it as a way of rehearsing and reaffirming important interests and aspects of my identity
  • Blogging has allowed me to try my hand at writing

Two other benefits have come my way since starting Words on the Word.

First, when I began in June, I really had no intention of reviewing Bible software, and had only ever used BibleWorks 7 and 8. But since beginning the blog, I’ve been able to write in-depth reviews of BibleWorks 9, Accordance 10, and Logos 4 and 5. I’ve also compared the three (with more comparison in the offing).

Second, I’ve just completed my first week through Greek Isaiah in a Year. What began as a quick post to tell my readers I wanted to read Isaiah in Greek in a year quickly turned into a reading group on Facebook with 160 (!) members and active discussion. It’s been a lot of fun. The democratizing effect of social media has grouped together professors, students, long-time Septuagintalists, pastors, and others who just want to read Greek together.

I blog for the love of the game. This blog is not monetized at all, as the business gurus say, save for my participation in the Amazon affiliates program, described here. (Side note: a link for aiding the work of WotW via contribution of books and Bible software resources is here.)

wotw logoThe blog has very much been its own reward. I’ve interacted with lots of folks I never would have otherwise, disciplined myself to start (and finish!) books I might not have otherwise, practiced my writing, and generally had fun.

But perhaps the greatest contribution this blog has made–or so some people tell me–is in its introduction to the world of my 5-year-old son’s writing. I never intended to co-blog, but my son has proved more than adequate to the task.

I’ve had to slow the pace of my blogging a bit in recent weeks as schedule demands have increased. But the state of the blog is strong, and so may it remain.

My 5-year-old son reviews Wild Kratts

My 4-year-old son is now my 5-year-old son. We thought it would be a good idea for him to review his new favorite show, Wild Kratts. Here he is:

I watched it on TV and then I noticed it on there, and it became my favorite movie to watch.

It’s about Martin and Chris, and they are the Wild Kratts. Their colors are blue and green. Chris is green; Martin is blue.

Aviva, Koki, and Jimmy are in Wild Kratts, too. Aviva makes motions, like materials to help the Wild Kratts. Koki writes stuff up and checks what’s happening around the world. Jimmy controls his controller and it gets the miniaturizer to do stuff. Like, he pushed the top level button and it just, like, gets the miniaturizer to get going.

People stand on it and turn it on, and when you turn it on, it goes shoop! and then you’re that small. One of them or the other of them or two of them [Chris and Martin] get small. When they get small they check out little creatures, like a worm. That was one of them that they did a miniaturizer for.

My favorite part about the show is seeing new animals, like: a spider, a hort-hog [AKJ: warthog, he means], and… a horse. I don’t know if they have a horse one.

The tortuga is a flying kind of turtle. They get in it and it helps them fly around. They fly to wherever the rescue needs to be. (They rescue creatures.)

It’s on at 3:30 on channel number 3, PBS Kids Go. All those kids movies are called PBS Kids Go.

My brother likes it. He really sings it a lot. Now I think he really likes that one.

PlasmaCar, a.k.a., Rocketship, a.k.a. “A COOL, COOL CAR!!!”

This is the family car of choice. In our house it’s called “cool, cool car,” so named by our 2-year-old. We got him one for his birthday. (Its real name: PlasmaCar.)

My wife got it for our 2-year-old after telling me she had scouted it out and that it was “toy of the year.” I’m generally skeptical of toys of the year, but this one has been a hit.

The only challenge was getting our two boys to share the one cool, cool car.

Side note: there was and is an accompanying song. It goes like this:

(loudly) A COOL, COOL CAR!

(softly) a cool, cool car.

(loudly) A COOL, COOL CAR!

(softly) a cool, cool car.

(loudly) A COOL, COOL CAR!

(monotone) CAR.

As I was saying, the sharing was not working out too well…until Grandma came to town and got the 5-year-old one of his very own! (Thanks, Grandma!) It’s now being called a “rocketship.”

The 5-year-old now knows how to do donuts on our back deck. The 2-year-old is not far behind. It’s hours of endless entertainment for us all.

And, yes, that’s the 2-year-old in the picture above on (you guessed it) his older brother’s cool, cool car.

Photo credit: Ian Drummond

Family Friday: Annisquam Lighthouse and a long walk on the beach

Yesterday I came home from work and, not even taking the time to change out of my dress clothes, strapped on our baby girl and walked with her and my two boys to the beach.

“Look out for the poop on top of the hill,” our now 5-year-old son reminded us. “Watch out… poop on hill!” echoed his 2-year-old brother.

We went down the poop-topped hill and onto the beach in sub-50 degree weather. The 5-year-old (he of “my 4-year-old son” fame) scrambled up and down the rocks. The 2-year-old sang happy songs and found a bird feather with which he stooped down to draw a “choo-choo” in the sand. Baby girl slept, warm against my chest.

The setting sun bounced off the houses on the opposite shore. One of the houses, reflecting the sun, looked like it had windows made of pure gold.

At 5:56, the Annisquam Lighthouse turned on.

It was a moment–a long moment, since we walked for about an hour–that I’ll savor for years to come. God has indeed been good to his people.