Words We Don't Say

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

When Eli got old enough to repeat everything we said, we stopped swearing within earshot (for the most part). There was a little road-rage incident when Peter was driving and Eli ended up chirping "Fuck!" through the Starbucks drive-thru, but he seemed to forget about that particular word pretty quickly. Fairly recently, I hissed "Jesus Christ!" under my breath (or so I thought) and Eli immediately piped up, "Why did you just say Jesus Christ?" So, needless to say we're pretty careful.

In addition to the obvious F-bombs and similar curse words, there are a few other things we try to avoid saying at home.

Stupid: There's a line in The Lorax that goes, "You poor stupid guy" and when I'm reading it to Eli I always change "stupid" to "silly". The word stupid just seems really harsh and hurtful. Calling someone stupid is mean. Even if they are stupid.

Shut up: Again, this one's just rude. Especially coming from little kids, you know? I'm guilty of telling the dog to shut up when he's barking like a moron at nothing at all, but we never tell one another to shut up. How do you feel when someone tells you to shut up? What a hideous phrase.

Fat: Partly because, sometimes, Eli makes out-loud observations about people's appearances. It's only happened a handful of times. Once we were shopping and we saw a lady with very bold, bright magenta-coloured hair, and Eli said, pretty loudly, "She has really red hair!" Nothing negative, just an observation. Another time we had a waiter with a sleeve tattoo and Eli TOUCHED IT (cringe) but he was just more curious than anything, and the guy didn't seem bothered. Long story long - I wouldn't want Eli to announce that someone, anyone, regardless of size, is "fat", especially within earshot. That's part of it. I also don't really want him to be hung up on peoples' sizes or appearances - fat, skinny, short, tall - it's not super important. And I know first hand that kids can be pretty cruel and brutally honest with their observations. So, we just try to keep it positive and not make a big deal about anyone's appearance, but "fat" is definitely a word we avoid.

Hate: There are so many other ways to express when you don't like something. "I don't like that." "That's not my favourite." "I'd rather have ___." "That makes me angry/sad/scared." Hate is a pretty powerful - and negative - word and one we try not to use around Eli.

Fart: Mostly because I want to avoid the embarrassment of "I farted!" in public. We'll say toot instead of fart. I know. It means the same thing. Everyone knows that toots are farts. But farts just sounds a hell of a lot grosser.

What do you guys think? Are there words you avoid using around your kids, or were certain words of phrases taboo when you were growing up?

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  1. Totally agree -- we don't like these words either. A neighbourhood kid recently taught our kids the "F" word (ugh, fart) and I was like "Oh noooooo, we don't say that." Toot is tolerable, but I'm really pushing the just-say-excuse-me angle.

    (Growing up, we could swear as teenagers but could never, ever say "I hate you," "Shut up," or "You're stupid.)

  2. I like your outlook on things! I think that you're getting your kid off to a great start! Most adults shouldn't say most of this stuff. I especially appreciate your take on appearances. You're encouraging Eli to look for the good in everyone. :)

    One time, my brother was picking on me quite mercilessly and being quite mean, and I told him I hated him as I walked away. My mom was walking into the room at the same time, and thought I was saying it to her... I'll never forget the look on her face. :(

    I am very guilty of overusing that word, actually. Just like "I hate when people don't know the difference between their/they're/there, haha. I should say "I find that discouraging!" I'd like to strip it from my own vernacular.

    Nice post! :)