Defining Moments

Being around children as a full-time job is a juggling act, with a lot of different balls in the air. One orb in particular is language. I am very careful never to curse in front of the kiddos, and have been successful thus far (unless you count an unfortunate incident while reading Fox in Socks which I still chalk up to a very leading rhyme scheme. Shame on you Dr. Seuss!). Along with not swearing like a sailor, I am very careful to project in my manner of speaking the positivity and integrity I hope to impart on the children through my actions as well. I don’t speak ill of others (even that jerk who cut me off on our way to the park), and I encourage the children to be sympathetic to others, even when it is hard for them to think outside of the bubble of their immediate needs.

In addition to striking swearing and negativity from my verbal repertoire, I try to include a varied vocabulary to help the children increase their word knowledge. Mr. Man and Big Cat are particularly keen to learn new and “really long” words; I start small by using a new word in my instructions to the boys. For example, I told Mr. Man and Big Cat that their consumption of dessert was “contingent” on their eating of vegetables. Very shrewd move, putting a new word between two red-blooded boys and their dessert! “What’s contingent mean?” Let the learning begin!

Just last week, while walking with the boys from school to my car, I pointed out where I had parked, an area I chose because it was less “congested”. Mr. Man immediately asked, “What does congested mean?” I answered, “Welp, congested can mean a few things. If you have a congested nose—nasal congestion—that means your nose is stuffed up. Like when you get a cold. Traffic congestion means there are too many cars close together and not moving much. Like on traffic channels you always hear about congestion on MoPac (a well-known and much-used Austin thoroughfare). I always picture Mopac blowing her nose and cars flying out like boogers.” The boys both started laughing hysterically, and Big Cat piped in, “Or a big truck flying out!” and Mr. Man added, “Yeah or a tow truck!” I doubt they’ll forget that dictionary entry anytime soon!

2 Comments on “Defining Moments”

  1. Alice says:

    Cheryl, there is one family that has never forgotten the word “brouhaha” after I used it when babysitting them. And that was a long time ago…

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