Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Not all milestones are hallmark moments...

I've been breathlessly awaiting the first time my son would...

You know those milestones... first smile, first step, first laugh, first word, first "I love you," first mumbled "whatever" Hmm. Well not that last one so much.

My newly minted five year old responded to a perfectly polite request for him to hang his coat up in the closet with a "whatever" mumbled under his breath. It was delivered with perfect sitcom accuracy in insolent tone. Where on earth did he pick that up?

I'll admit. I overreacted. Now it was like I was acting the sitcom moment. I, completely on autopilot, responded with, "What did you just say to me, Michael ______ _______?!?" He instantly knew I was pissed and that he had committed some major transgression. He just couldn't figure out what he had done. He froze in his sulky tracks and looked back over his shoulder at me inquiringly.

I repeated my incredulous "What did you just say to me?" question. He responded with a much more tentative "whatever." I vehemently explained that using that word was unacceptable in our house and that it was extremely rude and I never wanted to hear it again.

He wandered over for a hug and some reassurance and looked up at me and asked, "What does that word mean, Mama?" -- He didn't even know what it meant!!

In retrospect, he was experimenting. He had heard the term used at some point (possibly at preschool?), and made some fairly accurate assumptions, based on context, about when and how to use a new vocabulary word. He just didn't really understand the specifics. He decided to try it out at what seemed to him to be an appropriate moment.

I explained that using the word "whatever" tells the person you're talking to that you don't care about what they are saying and that using that word hurts people's feelings and is extremely rude.

I'm pretty sure he won't use the word again for a while and that he mostly understands why. Still, not a conversation I was expecting to have with my five year old.

1 comment:

  1. Get ready - there's lots more coming! Kids love to try out those words. I realized that was inevitable my kids would hear those words so I devised the strategy of explaining that those were "adult words" and that kids shouldn't say them. I also mentioned that there are "kid words" (poopooface, stinky pants, meanie, etc) that adults are not suppose to use. It worked until they were teens and then they proved to have a bigger vocabulary of "adult words" than I did! But by then they avoiding using them around me at least.


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