I’m sitting here in my kitchen, while my six-year-old daughter sleeps on the sofa, exhausted. The conversation I just had with her before she fell asleep is completely, 100 percent, absolutely ridiculous. And there is completely, 100 per cent, absolutely nothing I could do to avoid it. At least, nothing I alone could do (apart from maybe deserting society and establishing a new tribe with my little family in the wilderness). You see, the problem is here, in society. Or maybe it is here, in humanity. Or maybe both.
For her, it was in the classroom, from the mouth of a boy who proclaimed to be her friend.
And I can’t help but just say to myself, “Are we really still doing this? Really? More educational, inspiring, enlightening resources than we’ve ever had before, more history available to us, more psychology, more knowledge, more sharing of sympathies and feelings, more voices, all of these things are more accessible to the people in our society than ever before, and yet…we’re still doing this? Really?”
We try to shelter our kids from a lot of grown-up things in life.
We shelter them from things that we believe will have a negative impact on their childhood.
Some of these things — like drugs, alcohol, sexuality, violence, large-scale decision making—have scientific, physiological backing that supports our withholding, for the good of the children and their health.
Some of these things — like sarcasm, metaphor, mixed emotions (happy tears), intensely dramatic situations— are not necessarily harmful, but are withheld because they are simply outside a child’s understanding and would be confusing or upsetting to them.
We are so thoughtful, so studied, so pointed about these things. We are doing a great service to the next generation by being purposeful about it.
And then we go and let this sh*t happen.
This sh*t that I had to talk to my six-year-old daughter about today: This F-word that is far worse than F’s at school, or frappuccinos, or f*cking f*ck words, or any of those other F-words we parents get so worked up about.
Now, don’t get me wrong, this f-word is not a bad word in and of itself in the slightest. It is simply a descriptor, an adjective. It is a word that should be used technically, in relation to health and in conjunction with so many other factors, but it isn’t. It used to be an emotionally-simple word, a factual word, even a word that once connoted beauty, strength, and viability against nature and famine. Once, it may have described desirability in the oldest known statue.
Once, it described the first inspiration (a sea lion) for one of the most alluring mythological creatures — the mermaid. Once (not even so long ago), it was witness of a person’s wealth.
Once, it wouldn’t have been placed in the mouth of a six-year-old boy who was told it was a weapon. Once, it wasn’t loaded with so many holier-than-thou assumptions and used in firearms to shoot down the mental health of the already fragile (who — news flash — already know everything everyone tells them about it).
Once, it wouldn’t have created this conversation with my six-year-old. Once, it wouldn’t have caused her great amounts of anxiety. Once, it wouldn’t have been brought up by her over and over again for fear of being despised for its potential presence, even though it doesn’t technically apply to her.