Tuesday, October 8, 2013

All The Things That We Don't Say


Topping the list of words we don't say, whatever. Used as it is now most common, it reeks of disrespect and disregard. It dismisses the conversation and attempts to relieve the speaker of any responsibility for content. In short, whatever is a bad word and I had better not hear it from either of my children, ever.

Last week at dinner Mary said whatever, using it appropriately in a sentence such as "whatever you want is fine with me" and immediately clamped her hand over her mouth. Ah yes, the brilliance of the English language and our ability to use the same word in an infinite number of ways.  We tried to clarify, further confusing our daughter. Whatever.

Also on the list, "freakin'". No, just because you have substituted a non word to cover for what you really want to say, freakin' is not only not acceptable, it is not a word. The girls hear this at school, one of their classmates having recently adopted this gem to refer to whatever is the bother of the moment: freakin' math, freakin' test, freakin' teacher (librarian). We will not be adding this to our ever growing vocabulary, nor, for now, it's bad boy counterpart. No freakin' way.

My children will also speak with a full complement of Gs. They do not go bikin', skatin', or runnin'. They do not enjoy readin' or learnin' and will, should they momentarily become lazy and think that a G is not necessary, be corrected. We are learning the correct way to speak by doing and speaking and modeling. Enough said.

Not a word but a phrase, and one that I do not want to hear: "what the...?". Not allowed. Anything leading to something not allowed will not be used. What the what? Nope, unless you can find a end to that question that is not offensive, the phrase in it's entirety is out, including the lead in. What the hell? Exactly.

One of my favorite books to read in the library has the word "stupid" in the text. Every time I read this book there is a gasp as soon as I turn the page; those children reading along immediately see the offensive word and hands fly into the air, "bad word!". These same children say "what the...?" when later I tell them that because they have an overdue book they will not be checking out a new one. How stupid.

We also discourage the use of nouns as verbs, primarily the word party, correctly used to describe an event or gathering, not referring to your 23 year old self on any given Friday night. My children might attend a party, they will not "party" while there. Equally disturbing, the evolution of this word used by anyone over 25 (although still a bit grating before that). No 58 year old woman should ever suggest that she is going to "party", and no one should ever see it if it happens. Have fun, go crazy, attend a party and dance like mad, just don't "party", don't ever do that, please.

And then we move to bodily functions, not parts, we're still working on those, but bodily functions, those my father referred to as the BFs, as in "if you must refer to a bodily function in the car, please do so by saying BF. I have no interest in hearing about specifics". Nor do I Dad. My children use the restroom, or bathroom. They do not announce what they will do once they get there, or they are not supposed to (but they're 9, shit happens). If they do need to tell me specifics, and I know that sometimes they must, we prefer the far more refined and mature word, tinkle. My children do not go pee, nor do they pee-pee. They never have, I pray they never will. And for that most wonderful of bodily functions, the one that has the power to make just almost anyone laugh (and then sometimes cry in horror), we use "toot". The other word, the one that has made it's way into the book title of the most horrid of children's books, Walter the Farting Dog, I find to be completely crass and vulgar. Except for those 10 years when it was the only thing I called my sister (but to be fair, she tooted constantly), I abhor the word.

Last week I stumbled upon an in progress Mom conversation concerning appropriate bodily function words. It was too much to take, a Mom friend who was as uptight and rigid as me? Her children are only allowed to tinkle and toot, nothing else is permitted. We need to party with these people, freakin' awesome.

Yuck, not even in jest.


Nellie said...

I do truly wonder about the language choices of our young ones. I applaud you for your stand!

Margaret said...

If I get the chance to meet your children, I am sure the pleasure will be mine. Thank you!


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