My daughter discovered a new weapon in her arsenal of language. Sister, you’re an idiot! Daddy, don’t be an idiot! Mommy’s an idiot!
Several years back, a good friend of mine introduced me to the terms “teeth and claws words.” These are the words that can hurt people. That worked great until my daughter began hearing cuss words tossed around on the school playground this year.
“Daddy, guess what Brian gets to say at home?…F@$&..hahaha”
At that time I had to break things down. Sweetie, words are only as powerful as a person listening allows them to be. At Brian’s home that word doesn’t have the same power that it does at school. If he says that at school, what are teachers going to do?”
“He’ll have to go to the office.”
Yah, and if you use that word at school you will probably go to the office. If you use it at home, we…or at least I will ignore it. It doesn’t have any power. But if you say in front of other people in our family, you may make some people very angry. It’s a teeth and claws word for them.
From that point forward, we began to hear her say frickin’ a lot…”stop frickin’ talking to me! I said, frickin’ stop!” If she got pushed too far she would scream F@$&, run to her bedroom and slam the door.
Fast forward to our recent drive to Kung Fu. She called her sister an idiot. I responded, you know what that word is? It is a word that people use to use as a symbol to tell other people that a person with a disability was not a person who deserves to receive the same rights as people without disabilities. There are many words like that. Words that are used to tell people with disabilities that they are less. Those words are called derogatory words that are very, very hurtful to people with certain identities.
We talked about a few other derogatory words and a little bit about the history of those words. After kissing on the forehead before leaving her at Kung Fu, I asked, “are you going to say idiot?” She shook her head, communicating “no.”
It’s been almost two weeks and I have not heard the word idiot.