This evening at the dinner table our second Little Traveler was telling a story with genuine empathy and concern. In a hushed voice and a very serious tone she shared her story with the other little travelers. As they leaned in closer she told them about the little girl who was "death". She had been "death" since she was a baby. I asked if she meant she couldn't hear? "Yes" she answered with great graveness and sincerity, "she's death".
The moment took me back in time to a dinner table in Canada. Our first little traveler was seven and had spent the entire afternoon with a group of Little People who had arrived at the school for an educational visit. During their presentation the Little People had explained they didn't like the term Midget or Dwarf, both terms were seen as inappropriate. After a small presentation, the rest of the afternoon was spent playing basketball and talking. The children loved it, it was a great success.
Over the dinner table, our very excited first Little Traveler began telling us about the experience, "it was great Mum, we played basketball and we watched a movie, they were so funny....and Mum just make sure you don't call them Little People because they don't like it" she told us. I was a bit confused. I was a big fan of a cable TV show called "Little People Big World" and I was pretty sure it was the correct term. Our first Little Traveler was adamant, she wasn't going to be told, and in the best authoritative tone she could muster she said "Mum, they want you to call them Dawbs, please, just call them Dawbs".
Conversations like these remind you that children are children, they don't often hear every piece of the message. Changing the language, in their eyes, just doesn't make any sense. Why can't I call out across the room to ask the man where his other leg is? Why can't I tell that lady she looks funny with a beard?
Although, when it comes to language, if you have school aged children, you may have noticed the language has changed. The modern child can quite often sound like they've just left the boardroom.
In grade one, our third Little Traveler is already making "smart choices" for everything, and when he's not doing that he's "examining his options". I suggested a DVD for my 4 year old and was told "I don't think that's appropriate for me, I just don't think I'm ready for that". What an incredibly clever way of saying I think that DVD is really boring and I don't want to watch it. When choosing her Science project our first little traveler looks for the most "exciting experience", I wonder when it changed from the easiest one that was going to get you the best grade?
My personal favourite came from a recent Skype conversation with Aunty Suzie.
When Aunty Suzie asked our first little traveler if she had read the Hobbit as yet the reply was "no, my favourite genre is realistic fiction". Favourite genre? I thought back to when I was her age, I wonder what genre Dot and the Kangaroo fell into?
It appears though that this language can only work in a controlled environment. By the end of the day, when the Little Travelers are getting tired and begin walking in to the walls, the old favourites come out "you're not the boss of me", "did not, you did" and "I'll fart in your face".
Any of these sound familiar?