Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Currency of Language

While greeting children and parents one morning, I had the occasion to talk with a mother of a six-year old boy, Jonas. She and I talked about using appropriate language around children when she said, “I had a surprise the other morning. Jonas asked me, 'Mom, so long as I am not angry, can I use a swear word to explain something?'”

The mother, with some trepidation, was curious as to what was on her son’s mind, and said, “Jonas, it’s okay to use it with me when you have to explain something.”

You could just see the wheels turning in his head; this was the passport Jonas needed to begin to clarify what was on his mind, and before Mom could encourage him further, Jonas said, “Dad said f---.”

“Oh, that's not good.” was her immediate reply, with raised eyebrows.

She went on to explain to me that they have a system in place in their house that when Jonas says a word like “whatever” or “fine” with a bit of attitude, he has to pay her 25¢ out of his bank. Knowing this, Jonas pursued his ultimate point, “I guess that we should charge Dad $2.00 for what he said, huh.”