Now’s the time for wordsmiths and thought leaders to pick the word of the year. The choice is typically packaged with an analysis of the cultural/political/social zeitgeist and the word’s context therein.
I’m no grammarian nor am I a cultural critic but I’m going to pick my word of the year anyway: “fracking.”
Other contenders: “onion goggles,” “bi-winning,” “tiger blood,” “Bullfrogs,” “drink-a-doodle-do,” “umbrage,” “Adele,” “undun,” “duh,” “hobnob,” “Jimmer,” “status,” “pageviews,” “timeout,” “commute.”
Time Magazine made a good choice, in my opinion. “Occupy” conveys a lot about what went on in the U.S. in 2011. Other word choices of note include “swag” (big this year in hip-hop), “tergiversate” (pretentious — seems “equivocate” or even “flip-flop” could have accomplished the same goal for the fine folks at Dictionary.com. It’s for this same reason that I automatically strike “myriad” and “plethora” from anything I’m reading), “pragmatic” and “meh” (an inspired choice by the brilliant John McIntyre).
“Few things mark time or mood or change like our language,” Time’s Katy Steinmetz wrote. My picks simply serve as signposts for the year that’s about to conclude and reflect my personal obsessions — music, sports, “Modern Family” and my career, to name a few.
Since this is ostensibly a blog about fatherhood and its absurdities, I can definitely add some more to group that includes “timeout,” noted here because it’s something I seemed to put my 3-year-old in quite frequently, to little avail.
Redistricting: As parents of two (soon to be three) elementary school students, we discovered recently that our kids will attend a different school next year. We like our current school a lot. Redistricting debates get altogether heated in my fair ‘burg — classic NIMBY stuff from parents who bought overpriced homes in particular school districts only to discover to their horror that their children may have to attend different schools at some point. I suppose I understand. I just wish the dialogue didn’t get so heated and ugly, cheapened by loaded words that prey on misguided fears, because it cheapens our community.
Training wheels: They came off my oldest’s bicycle in the spring. Whole new worlds opened up.
Busted: One of the catchphrases from “Phineas and Ferb,” my kids’ favorite TV show and one I quite enjoy as well. From the inside jokes to the catchy tunes, “Phineas and Ferb” truly offers something for everyone in the family. Can’t say the same about that whiny “Calliou.”
Tee ball: I co-coached my 5-year-old’s team in the spring. Managed to survive the season without a single kid getting hurt or quitting, and without a single kid’s parent complaining about anything.
McQueary: One of the disgraced former coaches at the center of the biggest sports scandal of my lifetime. I ranted a bit about it here; my friend Beth did a much more effective job channeling her anger as a parent here.
Tebow: I was watching the Denver Broncos play the Chicago Bears a couple weeks ago. “Which team are we rooting for?” my son asked, a common question these days whenever a sporting event is on the TV that doesn’t include the Boston Celtics. “Uh, the Broncos,” I said, surprising myself somewhat. That’s because I’d been swept up in the unlikely success of quarterback Tim Tebow, enough to watch a game I’d otherwise ignore completely. Not because I thought it was at all sustainable; it doesn’t appear to be. But because of what it represented — someone’s peculiar talents upending the conventional wisdom in a pursuit that’s rigidly comformist.
Naps: They’ve pretty much been phased out this year — which is unfortunate because we have a 3-year-old, and we managed to keep napping in his brother’s and sister’s routine all the way up to kindergarten. But as with most things involving the 3-year-old, he’s the outlier.
Diapers: Gloriously, thankfully also phased out this year. Seven-plus years after buying my first box of Pampers, we are a diaper-free household again. It makes up for the lack of naps.