It seems my kids are always asking what a word means. If I say, “Go look it up in the dictionary” like parents are supposed to, they just say, “Nevermind” and would never find out what it means. Sometimes I just tell them. Other times (especially when I’m unsure on a meaning, but I don’t let them know that!), I get the dictionary out and look it up “with” them. My daughter is working on her homework as I sit here typing, asking me what quixotic means. Now there’s one that I’m gonna have to pull the dictionary out for. A few minutes ago she asked me if chausette is feminine or masculine. That one I can help her with, but I don’t and hand the French dictionary over to her instead. She needs to start looking up things on her own.
Last night, the high school had an open house where parents can meet their children’s teachers. When we met our daughter’s English teacher, he immediately told us what a good student she is (*proud parent moment*). He said she is a very good writer. As much as some children say they dislike writing, I think it is an important part of lives. Our kids have travelled quite a bit, more than some adults. When we have moved or gone on trips, we have encouraged them to write while we are on the road or in the air. Sometimes, we pull out their old journals and laugh at some of the entries. I think they will appreciate having these stories more and more as they get older. My parents saved some of my school papers and projects. Every so often I pull a different one out and show it to my kids. We laugh at some of the funny misspellings or silly pictures. With the introduction of the computer and internet in the immediate past, there may be more “writing” going on now than people think. So people need to be careful with what and how they write.
Choice of words is very importabnt. My daughter’s assignment is to use as many different words to describe one of Edgar Allen Poe’s works. I don’t think quixotic is going to describe many of his writings. When my children get mad at each other, there are some of the typical You’re stupid. or You’re a bonehead! that come out in the quarrels. As they get older, they are hearing much stronger language at times, at school, in movies, in music, out in public even. I tell them if they decide to use these words, it will make them look stupid.
We all know there are times when we have unwisely chosen words. They may not be curse words or even bad words at all but could just have been the wrong words at the wrong time. We get tired, stressed, or distracted, and we react with the first words that come to our minds. I know I am guilty of using these wrong words with my family quite a bit. They are the ones that I interact with the most, and they usually get the brunt of my bad moods. I am trying to stop, take a moment, and wait for better words to use in situations like these.
One of my husband’s cousins lived with him during college. He would often ask his cousin what he wanted to do. His cousin would respond with, “It doesn’t matter” or ” I don’t care.” My husband got tired of coming up with things to do, so he started saying, “Okay, let’s go wash my car” or “The yard needs mowing.” I think his cousin eventually got the picture.