Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Power of Words

I forget that I know a lot of words. I was reminded of this recently when I spent time with my nephew, B, and my niece, T. I lost track of how many times I used a word and B would ask me what it meant. (I would tell him and he would say "oh" and then it was as if I could actually see him storing it away in that little head of his, waiting for a day when he would use it himself.)

The thing is, I had to figure out the best way to explain whatever the word was to a four year old.

We were all playing with these magnetic/wooden/paper doll type things - there were super hero outfits and pirate costumes and all kinds of stuff. (It was so much fun that Aunt Maddie might need to get some for herself. The dolls, not the costumes.) B couldn't find the shoes that went with the super hero. All he could find were cowboy boots. This was very troubling to him, so I said something about how the doll could be a "rebel" and, of course, B asked, "What's a rebel?"

I had to think a minute before I said, "A rebel is someone who doesn't do what everyone else does."  

"Oh." He stopped for a minute, the cowboy boots in one hand, the doll in the other. He nodded as if deciding something. He put the cowboy boots on his super hero guy and said, "I'm going to make him a rebel."

Hmm, I wonder if more than one rebel was born that day.


  1. Sounds like the makings of a great story: "These Boots Are Made For Rebelling" =]

  2. Madeline, your story reminded me of when my kids were little and I'd use big words. I never explained the words, though--and they never asked. It was YEARS later when I realized that half the time, they had no idea what I was talking about!

    I'm glad you explained rebel. :-)

    (And you've been redecorating...I like it!)

  3. Lovely anecdote. I definitely believe in the power of words. Our thoughts (words) define who we are and how we react. :)

  4. Thanks, Cathy - glad you like the place. :)

    The problem is that the more words the kids know the harder it is to "hide" some of the things you're saying. Spelling still works for the moment but I'm not as fast/as good a speller as I used to be.

  5. Allie, I agree - words have such power. I think we all forget sometimes how our words/thoughts and those of others can hurt but also how they can heal and show love.

  6. It's such fun to monitor a child's learning. They do retain so much which is all the more reason to be careful about what is said around them. They're sure to use what they hear later whether it be the right way or the wrong.

    Tossing It Out

  7. Lee, wait until you read my follow-up post to this one. Turns out, I wasn't as careful as I should've been... :)

  8. My son and I made paper dolls out of paper and felt going on to make several outfits. It was a wonderful, creative day together. I still have those dolls, 15 years later.