There’s so much about parenting that borders on nauseating. I really mean that. In no other social circles is it both permissible and acceptable to lick your thumb and wipe the face of another. In fact, I can’t think of anyone other than the Captain who has ever groomed me with their saliva, not even my mate.
Dear Jeff, I thank you for that.
Saliva grooming is hardly the vilest of acts committed by the child rearing set. I’ll cop to catching handfuls of Jeffrey’s puke for the sanctity of the carpet. (Who wants to smell sour milk in their Berber for a month?) Dignity, for me, was lost on the birthing table; I snag vomit like an all-star shortstop when nature calls.
I’ll tell you where I have to draw the line. There is one place that I refuse to go as a parent, and it may come as a bit of a surprise given my willingness to cross boundaries of health and proper hygiene. You can take this to the bank; you will NEVER, EVER, EVER hear me utter the phrase. “Use your words.”
I’d like to know the etymology of this ridiculous parent lingo, as I certainly don’t remember the Captain laying those pearls of wisdom on us. It was far more likely we were being tricked into playing “Let’s see who can stay quiet the longest,” rather than receiving any encouragement to rattle on or more clearly explain our position in an argument. It seems that “use your words” has caught fire in the last few years, coming into fashion alongside scheduled play dates and the “time out.”
Perhaps it is because these innovations in parenting simply were not a part of my upbringing, that they affect me like a high pitched dog whistle. We played with the kids in the neighborhood, thought about what we were doing, and the hell there would be to pay if we acted like jackasses, embarrassed the Captain or Mr. Wonderful, or brought shame to the family name. “Use your words?” We got “The Sign of the Buffalo,” the universal McClelland family symbol for, “How about shutting the hell up for a minute cause you’re really getting on my last nerve.”
The rampant use of “use your words” reaches from toddlers to teens. For grunting toddlers struggling to express their needs, apparently a condescending “use your words” gives them the vocabulary Merriam Webster. For the older set, “use your words” begs the child to state their case in a bilateral negotiation. Either way, I’m irritated.
I find myself wanting to crouch down on bended knee to meet these word-using parents on eye level (apparently this posture is a pre-requisite to dropping the line “use your words”), and say in a similar, sing songy tone, “Sign of the Buffalo.”