Monday, December 01, 2008

50 Months

The weight of our words.

We give power to words, each one affecting us dramatically depending on how it's used. We communicate effectively or not so much depending on our understanding of words. They can be complicated or simple or lazy or demanding. They follow us throughout the day like a trail of knowledge and the aftertaste may linger with bitterness. Throughout it all we use words all the time and knowing how to use them is one of the fundamental human quandaries that have hounded us throughout the ages.

At four, Lucas is growing fond of words and how they are used. He has a keen sense of recall that astonishes both Xtimu and I every day. One of the problems that arises with a four-year-old is that they will find a way to repeat every word that washes over them. This can be an issue for various reasons and the way that parents deal with it will be debated until the end of time, I imagine.

Recently, Lucas asked me, "What does fuck taste like?" And then, just the other day, he was having trouble, due to the change in the weather, getting the back door open. Xtimu was cutting my hair in the garage so neither of us could respond to his demands for help, even as they escalated in tone. Finally we hear the door swing open and slam closed, and while I'm congratulating the little guy for his determination we hear his angry voice coming closer toward us, "The god-damn door isn't working correctly." Xtimu and I both start laughing behind our teeth as he storms into the garage.

Why are you laughing? One may ask. I know that it may seem wrong to some that Lucas, at four, already has such a vociferous vocabulary but inside my head, I was proud that he actually used the word in the correct context.

In our culture, we have allowed certain words to lord over us, heavy with irony. A word is only a word after all. We created it and used it and built it up with all of its burden, but in the end it is only letters strewn together in a cohesive order to describe some aspect of our life. It's not the word itself but the way that we use them that ultimately is a problem. So, as someone who loves to use words creatively, I've always had an issue with someone telling me that certain words are "bad" words, while others are traditionally accepted.

Take the word, "family", for instance. I think that simply saying the word brings to mind a positive response for most people but, as we recently saw in the last election here in California, people took this faithful word and used it in very hateful ways. While the word, "fuck", pretty much causes a panic response of some type with a lot of people but just about everyone in the world has benefited from the use of the verb context of this "horrible" word.

For us, we don't hold our punches just because a word may be perceived as negative in our society. Sure, we know when to say it and when to hold our tongue, it takes an certain amount of etiquette to understand how to use all words. Apparently Lucas is learning everything about us and mimicking us even when we might not want him to do that. Though, what is becoming quite apparent is that it is now time for Lucas to become aware of that etiquette. So we don't tell him that the word itself is "bad", we simply try to help him to understand that there are people out there who will take offense toward how he uses words.

It's very important for us, as a culture, to understand the ways that we develop. How we communicate, what we portray to others, is the only way that we can connect with other human beings. Lucas does this amazingly well at such a young age. So often, I'm completely startled by his level of sophistication but one of the reasons that he is so elevated, even compared to some adults that I know, is that we don't hold back with him. We try to explain everything to him, even though he has so many questions. We respect him as a human being and he keeps proving us right. It was no different in this instance, with the way that he used "god-damn", either.

I have faith in him. I know that he'll be respectful and kind-hearted. That's his nature. Having a few words like "god-damn" or "fuck" in his vocabulary won't change that. His awareness will continue to grow and in the end, Lucas is going to be an amazing person.

This is Lucas' favorite song

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Blogger Rick said...

another great post, Wade. Lucas is a wonder, and an incredibly fortunate child. He never ceases to amaze me, and what a sense of humor.

That 'G.D.' story is hilarious...had me snorting with laughter over here.

12:18 AM  

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