I don’t know who started this use of “really” as a sort of sarcastic, biting, questioning sort of way to suggest that the recipient of the “really” is a complete and utter moron. It’s used to hilarious effect by Seth Myers and Amy Poehler in their “Really, with Seth and Amy” segment And it’s … for lack of a better description … becoming one of those phrases that white people like. Catch it at the end of this Daily Show clip for example (and heaven preserve me from even visiting Berkeley, to which I live all too near, but that’s another post).
But today, I was at the Oakland Zoo, and I realized that not only has “really” permeated the consciousness of almost everyone around me, it’s apparently also become a parenting technique. For example, a woman pushing a baby in a MacLaren stroller offered this exasperated shout to her daughter, maybe four or five, who was taking off in the other direction: “Really, Zoe? You’re just going to run away. Really.” Then, not 10 minutes later, yet another mother hollered to her child, this time a girl of more like 3, “You’re REALLY going to run right through that mud?”
Now. See. I know the use of “really” as a cutting, world-weary expression of sangfroid makes you a super-cool grownup. I’m with you, dude, you’re totally the type who’s faux-amazed that another human being could possibly be so utterly, uselessly, shamelessly unintelligent, and your faux-amazement is its own form of intellectual genius. Seriously. You’re like the star of your own Heathers movie. But here’s the thing. Child-rearing is not like Dissing Your Dog. They don’t actually get your hipster sense of disdain. When you ask them if they’re really going to run away from you instead of saying put, or they’re really going to tromp right through that mud in their toddler Uggs, they’ve really only got one response for you. It goes a little something like this: “Yep!”Read more →