Yep, another Pet Peeve Post. I have a lot of ’em. Bring them out when I have nothing else to say. Which is why you don’t see them very often.
So here’s my Peeve: Adults who talk in the third person around children. (otherwise known as Pronoun Trouble) And the thing is, they don’t talk exclusively in the third person… they mix it up, so it’s totally wrong. For example:
“Mommy will get you some milk”
“Grandma needs you to sit quietly at church”
And I almost never hear guys doing it… “Daddy needs you to hammer this wall.”
Someone in my family does this, and has done it forever. She continues to do it even though one of her grandchildren has entered college, and others range from elementary school to high school. None are infants or toddlers. And it drives me batty, especially when she does it to Josh. Especially since we asked her, from day one, not to do it. We asked this because we don’t do it, and above all, kids need consistency, and if everyone around them is talking differently – especially with the basics like identifying pronouns (him, her, you, me, I) – it can get very confusing.
She said that it was the “proper” way to talk to children, because otherwise, how were they supposed to identify who was who? And I said that kids have been figuring that out since the dawn of time, and it’s only been in the last ten -whoops, twenty (damn, I’m getting old) – years that people have been doing this Third Person Wrong Narration, and kids were never confused before.
I guess, if it’s the way that you want to talk to your kids, more power to you – it’s just one more thing that you’re going to have to re-teach as they get older. I mean, how do you explain to them that THEY have to say, “I am going to my room,” when you model “Mommy is going to her room”? And then throw into the mix that men rarely do it, because… well, I’ve never asked them, but I suspect it makes them feel stupid.
Honestly, I can only remember one time when the whole “My-your” thing caused a problem. When I was in college, one of my friends was an exchange student from Japan, named Mayumi. Her name was pronounced, “my-YOU-me”. And my niece, who was about four at the time, kept calling her, “YOUR-you-me”. It was hilarious, and no matter how much we tried to convince her otherwise, we couldn’t, and just ended up sounding like an Abbot & Costello routine.
But otherwise, speaking in the Third Person just makes people sound ridiculous. Especially since they’re not doing it completely. Nobody tells their kid, “Mommy is going to wash Josh’s clothes now.” No, they say, “Mommy is going to wash YOUR clothes now.” Seriously, how are kids NOT supposed to be confused by that??
Is Laura off her rocker here, or do I have a point?