The Kidding of Children

“God has lessons for us, but sometimes God has The Devil to deliver them.”

That’s the soul of the message that I got from wise woman NANA CAMILLE YARBROUGH a few years ago. Don’t know what we were talking about, but it applies to this next entry.

I dated said deliverer once, but I learned a few things from him. For example, he used to always correct people when they referred to children as kids. “A kid is a baby goat! Our children are human beings.”

Good grief! That was the epitome of over-analyzing a thing. So over the top, I thought. As much as I adored him at the time, he could be overbearing.

Today, I share the same disdain for the word “kid.” It didn’t take much for me to look more deeply into this. I, as an English Major, surely couldn’t shy away from the fact that language has deep meaning and those meanings are attached to the essence, the spirit, the energy of a word.

I used to teach 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students in Brooklyn. It sensitized me to how young people think…and how they hear us. It often reminded me of how I viewed the world as an adolescent. There is a world of language that adults use when referring to young people. “Kid” is not normally heard as a loving term. It carries the weight of dismissive-ness and detachment, very subtly.

My disclaimer: I am not a parent. I have not raised children. My most direct daily relationship to children was years ago when I was in the classroom. My closest connection to a child is my eight year old sister and she lives in Florida. To the extent that I can help guide her through life via my frequent phone calls is the extent of my regular engagement with children. So I don’t profess to know more than any parent or teacher whose lives are immersed in raising children.

I do remember that as a child, that I wished that adults would show more respect to children and would listen more. That whole “do as I say, not as I do” irked me then and irks me now. But who was I to say anything, just some kid who didn’t know any better.