Think Before You Speak

I am constantly amazed and reminded by the listening skills my children have. At one extreme I wonder why they can’t hear me tell them to put on their pajamas or brush their teeth, yet I know their hearing is just fine with they recite every word I say especially when I am not even talking to them. It is as if every word is being recorded and therefore I have really been forced to censor my language.  Young minds are literal.  I am learning how many expressions we say that are much more extreme than our intentions.

I bought my son a pop up, 3D, hologram Star Wars book.  Since this is his newest obsession, I knew he was going to think the book was amazing. When I gave it to him I said, “You are going to die when you see what I got you.”

Instead of the excited smile I expected, he looked at me with sadness in his big blue eyes and sadly asked, “Why and I going to die?”

I chuckled inside and then explained that it was an expression.  After he was satisfied I continued to think how weird some of the words and phrases we say are.


Not long later his little sister was acting like the typical terrible two year old.  She was screaming, crying, flopping around on the floor for no reason.  After trying to calm her for a long time, I left the room and said, “You are a real nightmare today.”

Little boy came over to me and I could see the wheels in his brain spinning, “How can she be a nightmare?  Doesn’t that only happen when you are sleeping?”

“Yes.” I explained again.  Noticing again our kids are learning and listening to every word we say. The innocence of children shows me that some of the phrases we use really don’t make much sense.

Have you experienced any similar wording mix-ups with your kids?  Do you censor what you say around your children?



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  • i don't have children, obvs. but i feel the need to censor my language around those who do. this usually applies mostly to expletives, though they are going to learn the language anyway. i think this entry points out the idiosyncratic nature of the English language more so than the need to censor that language. Perhaps it's just me, but I think people should know that words are simply just collections of is the voice behind those words that give them meaning and depth. Similar arguments would apply to reclaiming words with negative associations by minority groups. This might get me in trouble with some people on here, but I call my gay friends fag all the time (to those who don't know I am also gay) as a way to dissolve some of the hate of the word.

    I think I went off on a tangent though. I think those phrases Dylan is having trouble with are specifically those that logically do not make sense. Why would he die from reading a book? It's a weird phrase. But, society uses these odd expressions and he is going to have to learn them. Who better to learn from than his mother? So, chat away...hell, what's the phrase...The more you know, right? :-)

  • In reply to kevinlole:

    Kevin, I agree. This post is not really about sensoring, more about being literal with words. Maybe I'll save sensoring for a whole different post.

    I don't think you should refer to gays or other minorities with words that have a negative connotation. You are telling others it is ok to use those words.

  • In reply to kevinlole:

    It's not sensoring, which isn't a word but implies that you are sensing something, it's censoring, which means to limit what is said. You make some good points in your posts, but they're all, at some point, marred by grammatical and structural mistakes that are distracting and frustrating.

  • In reply to shadow8:

    I appreciate your feedback and apologize for the error. I've made the correction and am always happy to receive proofreading advice.

  • In reply to shadow8:

    It is too bad that a simple grammatical error can make one feel that upset or frustrated. Your blog is very interesting and informative for any new mother or reader. Clearly this person has more time on their hands then most.

  • In reply to mweindruch:

    I'm wondering why you needed to insult me.

  • In reply to shadow8:

    I was neither frustrated nor upset. Should I apologize for noticing these things and offering advice? I offered a simple comment along with a sincere compliment. And by the way, it's 'than' most, not 'then' most. Then is an adverb that signifies a particular time, than is a conjunction used to indicate difference of kind.

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