Daughters, dictionary leave us feeling inadequate

My favorite ads on TV right now are ones that feature kids of various ages expressing some level of disgust with their parents.

First, there’s the Geico “Scoop, There It Is” commercial. Dan and I have friends — with no adolescent children living at home — who thought watching hip hop group Tag Team dish up ice cream and the play on their hit “Whoop, There It Is” was hilarious. They didn’t even notice the teenage daughter — or her look of disgust as she exits the room after her dad starts dancing. That’s my favorite part of the whole commercial. It’s a look with which I am quite familiar.

Then, on Sunday, we got to watch John Travolta groove with his daughter, Ella, for a Tik Tok video (on a lovely lawn designed to advertise Scotts Miracle-Gro of all things) — but only after she instructs him on how to properly set up the camera.

“He’s John Travolta, for crying out loud!” I yelled at the television. “He doesn’t need your help!”

I know what it’s like to receive unsolicited instruction from a daughter. There’s nothing that makes you feel less accomplished as parent than having a 12-year-old talk to you like you’re an idiot. My Ainsley doesn’t even mean to be disrespectful. She honestly believes I’m an idiot.

But it’s not just Ainsley who can make me feel stupid. Merriam-Webster is giving her an assist this week with its annual announcement of the 520 new words and definitions that have been added to the dictionary.

I typically am not a fan of new words, especially given the plethora of old words that sit unused most of the time. Equinox, as you might know from reading past columns, is one example. Binge watch some Jane Austen movies if you’d like to hear some more.

Of course, I’m not opposed to truly pragmatic choices, like “COVID-19,” which was added to the dictionary in a record 34 days.

And I don’t mind the addition of “second gentleman” to describe Vice President Kamala Harris’ husband, Doug Emhoff.

But A.S.M.R.? Is this really used “in a wide variety of texts by a wide variety of people over an extended period of time?” I’ve never heard of it.

Maybe that just shows how stupid I am. If I did a better job keeping up on New York Times articles, I would have known everything there is to know about A.S.M.R. almost two years ago. (Instead, I first heard of it on Tuesday.)

So you don’t have to look it up, it stands for “autonomous sensory meridian response” and is defined as “a pleasant tingling sensation that originates on the back of the scalp and often spreads to the neck and upper spine, that occurs in some people in response to a stimulus (such as a particular kind of sound or movement) and that tends to have a calming effect.”

It is not, as Ainsley would suggest after reading that, inappropriate. You really have to read the article. The definition doesn’t do it justice.

A word that might actually deserve her “inappropriate” stamp is “sapiosexual” — a romantic attraction to highly intelligent people. There’s nothing wrong with being attracted to highly intelligent people. But do we really need a special word to describe the phenomenon? I think not.

I also learned from the article I read that “@” is no longer just part of an email address, but also means “to respond to, challenge or disparage the claim or opinion of,” such as “Don’t @ me.”

Maybe I’ll try that one with Ainsley. She might just think I’m a genius.

— Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean. Readers can email her at [email protected].

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean