Wednesday, June 24, 2009

"Use your words!"

We have a dear, dear friend who has a dear, dear son. I am a huge fan of people who raise their children well. I realize that as father to no one, I am in no position to say what it's like to be the parent of anyone, but still, like a vegetarian buddy of mine who owned a steak restaurant down the ocean, I believe I can tell what's good and what isn't.

My dad used to tell me that people who used obscenity in their speech only did so because they didn't know the right words to use. My dad knew some words, I wanna tell you. In fact, if there is any explanation for the expansiveness of my vocabulary, it's easy to trace it back to my racing to the Merriam-Webster to find out what he meant when he pointed out that I was being contumacious, or obstreperous, or any of a hundred other snappy capsulizations. I wanted to follow along, so I had to know the words.

My friend has a three-word exhortation that she uses whenever her son is attempting to communicate: "Use your words!" I think that is great. Crying, screaming, throwing things, showing emotion...we all feel the urge to do these things, no matter our age, but how great it is to remember those three words. "Use your words!" Tell people how you feel, share your emotion, let someone know you need help, or tell someone you care about them. Our friend has spent a lot of time teaching her son many words, and there is no more important tool to communication than knowing the words. If you don't agree, then go over to Moscow, Baghdad or Highlandtown and try to order a cheeseburger. If you don't speak Russian, Arabic or East Baltimore, hon, you're gonna be short one burger and still hungry.

"Use your words!" No matter what, it's good advice. This young man will enter first grade this year, and he will be ahead of a lot of his classmates because he can express himself and his feelings so well. He really has been raised with love and devotion!

There's one exception. And when he looks at me and smiles, well, then he doesn't need any words at all. I love him, too.

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