kids · parenting

A Child’s Vocabulary

This week’s Modern Family episode had me laughing, as it always does. What really had me going this week was Cameron (Eric Stonestreet) and Mitchell (Jesse Ferguson) and their issue with little Lily and her vocabulary. A package came to the house with a flower girl dress for Lily to wear in a wedding they were attending. This is how it all went down:

Mitchell – Hey Lily, come here honey. Do you know what this is?

Lily – A box.

Mitchell – Containing?

Cam – She doesn’t know ‘containing.’

Mitchell – Well that’s how she learns new words, by us using them.

Cam – Or that’s how we lower her self-esteem by bombarding her with confusing vocabulary.

Lily – What’s the box containing?

Bam! Sorry Cam but you lost that one. I’m with Mitchell on this one. I don’t shy from big words around my kids. I use them and then they ask me what they mean. Maybe not all the time, but they usually do. Do they always remember these words…no, but they often do and they use them…CORRECTLY. They’re like little sponges, we teach and they learn. We’ve recently learned words like impatient, respectful, boastful, mimic, and ridiculous. I was actually scolded in the car the other day for saying “ridiculous.” Deacon thought it was a bad word. I explained to him that it was not a bad word and I explained what it meant. I then got the reply, “So even kids can say it?” That one gave me a chuckle. It’s inevitable as a parent to have a “bad word” slip out here and there in the presence of the kids. It happens. What is horrible is when you hear your child say those words. The automatic response is, “That’s a bad word, you can’t say that.” To which they reply “but you did!” Oh crap! Then there is the explanation how it’s a grown-up word and you apologize for having said it.

The focus of last night’s episode wasn’t exactly teaching Lily new words…it was about the word Lily kept saying so sweetly. F&#!. This drove Cam into hysterics; uncontrollable laughter to the point of tears. Mitchell, on the other hand, was profoundly upset. Two completely opposite reactions. I usually show that I’m shocked, get stern, and then turn quickly to hide my smirk. I admit it is a little funny hearing those tiny innocent voices saying a naughty word. Hell, it usually goes viral on YouTube. But once they see you laugh I fear they’ll be saying it all the time. So how do you handle it when you hear your child drop the F-bomb or some other horrifying word? Are you a Cam or a Mitchell?

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7 thoughts on “A Child’s Vocabulary

  1. I laugh, hysterically. Then I have to tell my son (it’s never my daughter! Always my son!) to not use those words or else he’ll get arrested. Because it’s against the law for kids to talk like that.

  2. While I don’t have kids yet, I think I’m going to be like you… I will correct it but find it funny at the same time (without them knowing!).

  3. Man do I love that show! I will have to play catch up and watch it tonight though.

    I would side with you that I generally get stern and deal with the situation but not without having a private moment of giggles because let’s me honest. IT IS FUNNY!!!

    My kids went on a little run with the word dammit. Not a proud moment but I just can’t help myself with that word!

    1. When my oldest was four he dropped his crayons. took in a deep breath, and then dropped “WTF”. My husband and I stood there in stunned silence…then ran to the kitchen to laugh. He knew when to use it I guess.

  4. In third grade, my son has pretty much learned them all now. Words are words. I certainly don’t want him running around cussing, but I’ve had to tell him what so many words mean this year, I’ve learned that my focus should be on making sure he doesn’t disrespect people with them and that he knows what he’s saying. When he comes home from school telling me an 8-year-old’s definition, I need to set him straight. I’m with Cam, sometimes, it’s just pretty damn funny.

  5. I heard this on the radio and immediately thought what you did – I’ve always used a big, adult vocabulary with my kids. Why dumb things down just because they’re little. They’re amazingly able to pick up language and their meanings. Nice post!

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