I have plenty of words in my life. I like most of them ("moist" is one I do not like. My children know this and like to use it whenever they can to annoy me. Matt's friend, Colton, even likes to use it around me just to see my pained reaction). I like to say them, write them with a nice pen on nice paper, type them on a keyboard that makes little clickity sounds. I like to turn them inside out, use them in unconventional ways, and add suffixes and prefixes that don't really match just to keep things interesting.

Matt and Hayley share my enjoyment of words, and a few days ago, Hayley and I had a usage discussion about three words (actually one is a phrase) and the various situations in which they should be used.  She had asked about the difference in "dawdling" and "fiddling."

I explained that when I say "dawdling," I mean someone is purposely making us late to church (or another outside-of-the-home activity) by moving very slowly, not doing anything.

When I say "fiddling," I mean that someone is sitting on the couch poking and manipulating or otherwise fingering a small object (like a little rubber toy bat), possibly with moving parts (like a Rubix cube), or taking those small objects and playing with them in a noncommittal and nonstandard way just to while away the hours and avoid doing something constructive.

I added that "piddling around" is a combination of these two words/ideas; it what someone is doing when they are making us late to an event by playing around with small objects and not paying attention to my efforts to move them along.

"So," said Hayley, "Paul dawdles, but he doesn't usually fiddle, or piddle around. Whereas (she might not have actually said "whereas") I fiddle but don't dawdle. And Matt does all three."

I told her that's she's right, she generally doesn't dawdle, but I have known her to piddle around when I've been trying to get her into the van for piano lessons. She grudgingly admitted to the occasionally piddling around and readily agreed that she fiddles. But she adamantly refused to admit that she had ever dawdled.

We spent the rest of the car trip analyzing the dawdlers, piddlers, and fiddlers that we know.  It was a fun discussion.


Jenni said…
That is so funny. I think having grown kids to make conversation is so much fun. Especially kids that can think creatively and wordily. Great thinking Hayley. So many kids have never been exposed to "dwaddling" and have curled their noses at me when I have used it. Pish.
TaterBean said…
Can I just say I love this post. It is funny! I can't wait to come home and use the word moist in front of you. I never knew that this was a word that you did not enjoy. HAHA!