Friday, October 8, 2010

The F Word and Other Growing Concerns

It's a dangerous line to straddle between believing in the power of language and refusing to hold on to that language too tightly when it comes to the great, beautiful swears like the F word.

Who knows what little ears can hold? Yesterday, Atticus and I bopped around to the Magnetic Fields 69 Love Songs, which all should agree is a mindblowingly good concept album. And if you know that much about the album in question, you also know that a) the bouncy silliness of it lends itself beautifully to Atticus's musical aesthetic (can it be danced to?), and b) a lot of the album's language is not appropriate to plant in the landscape of Atticus's fertile ears. Volume One (the superior of the three volumes), tracks 9 and 14 come to mind. Sure, pretending we're bunny rabbits sounds innocent enough ...

At one point do we need to edit, monitor, babymuff the things we say to ensure that our children do not use language we don't want them to? On the one hand, I don't want him to think language is a bad thing - any language at all. I want him to understand appropriate and inappropriate contexts for all language. But on the other hand, there is nothing even remotely charming about foul language coming out of a small child. I'm not talking about that one time they used a word they didn't know was bad. That can be adorable. I'm talking about bad words coming out of little mouths with intention. Not cool.

I don't want Atticus to be that kid. I want him to understand the pointed nature of some words, how they carry more weight, how they can slap someone across the face from across the room. I want him to save those words for when he's all grown up and needs them.

Until then, must I banish the Magnetic Fields and their ilk? Do I make a different version of the cd, of all of our lives, until he's ready for it? Childhood is a cleaned up version of the world. I'm cool with that. I'm cool with wiping down the scene for him. I'm just not sure where to begin.

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