Monday, January 14, 2008

More Than Words

I'm lucky. Yes I'm lucky. I often win at raffles and I seem to have some luck with slot machines. I'm NOT lucky however at card or board games. At those I stink, but I still manage to have fun.

But I consider myself truly lucky because I have parents who cared enough to be very, very strict about how we used language in our family. It was completely unacceptable for my brother and I to ever use certain words. Words like 'hate', or 'stupid'. Of course all of the four letter words were banned. When I was 5 years old I came home from school and thought I'd try out a new word I'd heard that day. The "F" word. Yep, I had no idea what it meant or how to use it but I had heard it in the schoolyard and thought it sounded cool. So I walked in the door and tried it out on my Mom.

Not. A. Good. Idea.

Within minutes I had a bar of soap in my mouth. Not a lot mind you, but enough to make such an impression on me that I still cannot ever say that word. Never. Ever. (Well almost). I know how soap tastes and it's horrible. It would never be an acquired taste. And in today's world it would probably be considered some kind of abuse. But in those days that kind of threat worked and was acceptable.

As I grew older I also grew thankful for what my parents had instilled in me. I realised that for most people using certain words was a lazy habit that couldn't be broken. Now when I hear four letter words I always think of it as "lazy language". It's easy to use the 'F' word, but it never really expresses what you truly mean. It takes more effort to put your ideas/thoughts/feelings into good language, but it's important. It is what gives you grace, elegance, and style.

I also learned just how important it is to not use words like 'stupid' or 'idiot'. It's a basic rule of parenting isn't it? Call a child 'stupid' and he learns to think of himself that way. I was never allowed to call my brother names (oh yes I wanted to of course) and we were taught to treat other people how we wanted to be treated. I knew the 'Golden Rule' and still try to live by it even as an adult. My Mom often repeated this simple phrase "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all", and it is still very difficult for me to say something cruel or unkind. I don't think it makes you dishonest, it just ensures that you are the sort of person who other people like to be around.

I am lucky. I am lucky because I have fantastic parents who knew the impact of words and taught me to be kind. Thank you Mom and Dad.


Lynda said...

LOL great post... sounds like the house I grew up in.

I once made the mistake of using the word 'bored' within the ear of my grandmother... boy!! did she ever teach me the meaning of bored, by the time she was finished I had polished all the silver, scrubbed the front steps, alphabetised the pantry (with all labels facing front), repapered refolded the linen cupboard.... don't think I ever did use that word again. Come to think of it, perhaps that was the day I developed my anal retentive tendencies.... LOL

Miss Kim said...

LOL lynda! Bored was another word which would get us in trouble! When our kids were claiming to be bored we would answer "No you're not-- you're BORING!"