My kids are at the age where everytime they hear a word for the first time they ask what it means. This is both charming and exhausting, and has spurred some discussions about the nuance of language.
Occasionally Krystal will ask out of the blue what a word means, and I always first ask her where she heard it. She’s come home asking what gay means, and it distresses me to hear that she’s overheard a child at school say “That’s so gay” or “You’re so gay”. Twenty-first century my ass. Who are these kids’ parents?
The other night she asked, “What does whore mean?” And then quickly added, “It’s a bad word, isn’t it?”
I first asked where and how she heard it, since sometimes the context can give me some clues on how to answer. Unfortunately, all she said she heard was another kid asking what it meant. Given it was a new word to her, she had to ask me.
How would you answer that for your child?
I said, “It is not a nice word. Usually it’s used to describe a woman who has sex with lots of different men. Sometimes for money. Which is against the law in most places.” (Too much? I know – it’s a tough call.)
She said, “Oh. She must really love her job.” Deadpan. Sincere. Innocent.
“No, honey – she doesn’t do it because she likes it.”
“Oh, she doesn’t really love all those men?”
Innocence fading. But at least she knew you’re supposed to love someone you have sex with. Can I cling to that?