I love words.
If you happen to know me in “real life”, you can attest to this. Do I not talk more than anyone you know? Do I not start conversations with random strangers in grocery store lines? Do I not say goodbye at least three times before actually hanging up the phone? Send text messages that could be novellas? Would I not talk to a TREE if left with no other option? Yeah, that would be me. If you don’t know me in “real life”, the fact that I have a blog might be a clue. I love words.
This is why I was so upset today, when reading some amazing blogs that I have fallen behind on lately, I found out that a school board in California has banned the dictionary! Apparently, the dictionary has a definition for “oral sex” and cannot possibly be useful for a fourth and fifth grade research library.
I have a fourth grade student. I haven’t asked him, but I am reasonably sure that he has no idea what oral sex is. My roommate has a fourth grade student as well. Again, I have not asked, but I am reasonably sure she does know what oral sex is. I am equally sure neither of them have looked the term up in a dictionary.
I am not sure why one child most likely does know and one likely doesn’t. My son is rather immature for his age, as the youngest of five, I think that is common. Her daughter is the youngest of four, and very mature for her age. If my son were to ask me what it was, I would most likely tell him, because I believe in answering these types of questions honestly as they are asked.
Now, I should pause here and explain that my parenting style has been criticized more than once. Mostly by people who have no children, but occasionally by people who do. I don’t believe in bedtimes, I encourage my children to question authority. Respectfully, but question rather than blindly follow. I also don’t think the world is going to come to an end if my kids are really angry and use a “dirty” or “bad” word. When I was a little girl, my grandmother told me that words like fuck or shit weren’t bad words. They were ugly words, that shouldn’t be said, but words like hate and war are “bad” words. Perhaps that is why I feel the way I do. I have a tendency to let the words fly myself when I am angry. I don’t like my kids to say those words because I think it makes them sound rather stupid, and my children are all amazingly smart. They will get in trouble with me if they use words like gay, or fag, or queer as an insult. Luckily, that rarely if ever happens.
My point is this. We can ban books, we can make words taboo, we can shelter children to amazing lengths, but what are we accomplishing? Perhaps, instead of taking things away, instead of hiding the things that make us as parents uncomfortable, we should talk with our children. Maybe we should look up dirty words in the dictionary together, as we all did as children, and giggle with our children over the tantalizing definitions, then explain them, discuss their thoughts. Maybe then we will truly be acting with our kids best interest at heart, and we can make this world the kind of world we all keep saying we want.