We were driving in our neighborhood several years ago and saw a girl in my daughter’s grade taking a walk. I vaguely knew the child’s family and I also knew that she was very popular at school so I asked my child, “Is so-and-so a nice girl?”
Her response was quick, “Well, she’s not not a nice girl.” What? I thought I had heard her wrong, but I didn’t, so I pushed a little more, “what does that mean?” and she started getting frustrated with me, “I don’t really know her, Mom.”
I was just about to correct her grammar but then realized that what she had said was exactly how I would want her to respond. She didn’t know this person, but certainly knew the persona and had decided to not place a judgment, good or bad, on someone whom she did not know.
Since that day I have heard all three of our children occasionally explain middle and high school relationships in the double negative: We’re not not friends, he’s not not a good athlete and the classic, she’s not not a nice girl.
A double negative usually sounds anything but positive, but in this case I am pleased that my children sometimes work extra hard to not say something unnecessarily. I have so much to learn from them.