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Kathy Tofflemire, Published October 08 2012

Parenting Perspectives: Pattern could become, like, really annoying

My grandson has been a teenager for a mere six months, yet the transformation has been quite amazing and somehow immediate.

I can now look him straight in the eye, and his voice has changed.

And, most importantly (to him), he is no longer the only eighth-grader at Carl Ben Eielson Middle School who doesn’t have a Facebook page.

I recently received his annual football photo, which I keep on my desk. The difference from last year’s is very noticeable. Last fall, he looked like a boy; this year, he looks like a young man – a good-looking one, to be sure.

He is already fascinated by the idea of driving and is imagining what kind of first vehicle he might be able to afford.

It is hard for his mother and me to comprehend that he could actually get a job next year (if it didn’t interfere with sports).

After a recent dinner with out-of-town friends, it was noted by them that the next time we get together, my grandson would probably be bringing a girl.

According to his mother, that’s not going to happen. Ever.

All this is normal and nothing for Grandma to get too concerned about, except for one thing.

Recently, as he was describing an incident at school, I detected that a particular word had crept into the conversation. And Grandma was not pleased. As Barney Fife would say, “We need to nip it, nip it in the bud.”

The word was “like.” I must admit, I stopped him in mid-sentence and asked him to please try to refrain from that linguistic habit – under threat of bodily harm.

“Like” is a word that serves no real purpose, and hearing it four times in one sentence, for me, is much like fingernails on a blackboard. I would almost rather hear profanity than the multiple “likes.” It is no longer a filler word but has become part of many people’s conversation rhythm.

Any episode of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” or “Teen Mom” offers cringe-worthy conversations. And, yes, I am embarrassed to admit that I watched them over the summer months.

I even hear “like” in the newsroom, and I want to run screaming from the building. These are intelligent, well-educated young people who are talking.

How this remnant of Valley Girl talk has survived for several decades is a mystery to me.

I don’t know how I am going to see that it doesn’t become a habit with my grandson since I’m not with him all that often.

I’ll just have to like hope for the best that it won’t become like a permanent part of his speech pattern because that would be like grody to the max. Totally!

Kathy Tofflemire is a copy editor at The Forum. Readers can reach her

at (701) 241-5514, or ktofflemire@forumcom.com