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ASK THE EXPERTS

Whatever you call them, they’re yours to keep

POSTED: June 24, 2009 4:00 a.m.

This is my 19th Father’s Day. That is, if you count the one where we were anticipating an arrival in September of 1990.

  

This year, for the first time, all of the people who call me father or stepfather are now adults or have reached the age of majority.

  

For years, I have written about people who have children who have reached adulthood. The term “grown children” seems a bit like an oxymoron. If they are grown, they are no longer children.

  

I have a great big dictionary that has every word in the modern English language. There are new words added yearly. Most are verbs that come from things we do. A few years ago, we began texting, the process of sending a text message on a device. Years before that it was faxing, the term for sending a fax. I’m told that the whole notion of faxing is nearly as obsolete as VCRs and 8-track tapes.

  

We even modify the new verbs. When people started sending sexy pictures of themselves via a cell phone, it became sexting, the portmanteau of sex and texting. I wrote the last sentence just to be able to use the word portmanteau.

  

When I was growing up, we had a phrase that would have worked for people sending sexy pictures: sorry, no-good trash.

  

There are new words that have made it into the dictionary, such as webinar, a seminar held on theWeb, or Internet. There are other words that have made it over the years, such as air quotes.

  

For example: His mama is just a tad crazy. You would air quote around the word “crazy.”

  

But with all those dictionary words, I haven’t been able to find one that describes your children who have reached the age of majority.

  

I thought of dependents, but I am told that there is hope that the condition of dependence on parents is not permanent.

  

I thought of creating my own portmanteau.

  

Combine adult and children to get adultren, but that sounds like multiple persons with whom adultery is committed. “He committed adultery with several known adultren.”

  

I thought of combining grown and children into grownren. Unfortunately, that sounds like the typical attitude expressed by my late Aunt Mertice Ruth: “She’s not mad, she’s just grownren.”

  

I also got nowhere with “chidults,” which sounds like a snack food. So, as I begin this new chapter in fatherhood, I guess I’ll have to put those age-old oxymorons of grown children and adult children to use.

  

I always cringed when I had to use them in newspaper stories about others, now I’m using them to describe my crowd.

  

After this, I have a year to adjust before AARP comes calling with a membership card.

  

Whatever you call them, they’ll always be your children and, if you’re like me, you’ll ride with them on this emotional roller coaster of life. There will be days of great joy and occasional disappointment, but they are mine and I love them.

  

Harris Blackwood is the author of “When Old Mowers Die.” His e-mail address is harrisb@forsythnews.com. 

 

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