Do you remember when we were talking about kids and swearing? I stumbled upon an analogy that worked well to explain some things to 1st-grader Edward. It requires the children to be familiar with Taco Bell, but that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make. (It also helps that in our family there's a pretty clear correlation between increased age and increased liking of hot sauces.)
It started because he
asked if he could use the f-word to say one funny thing, and I said no,
he couldn't. (I first established that we were talking about "the one
that rhymes with duck," because in the past there have been
misunderstandings where I later discovered that, for example, "the
s-word" was "stupid" or "snot.")
led to a conversation where I was trying to discuss the difference
between "mild" swears and "strong" swears---but also trying not to imply
that strength (often a positive attribute) was necessarily positive in
this case. It was when he asked what "mild" meant that I thought of the
taco sauce he likes. So then it was a quick jump to the idea that although he
likes one packet of mild sauce on a taco, it wouldn't be a good plan to
use ten packets of fire sauce. And although fire sauce is "stronger"
than mild sauce, that doesn't mean it's better, it means you need to be more careful with it and make sure it's what you want in that situation. And that someone might put mild sauce on tacos and nachos, and might work up to fire sauce with time and practice, but still not use any sauce at all on the cinnamon twists or in the strawberry slushie or on the table or in our eyes. And that using too much sauce, or putting the sauce in an inappropriate place, RUINS things.
This got across to him some concepts that I was
having a little trouble getting across before: that just because it's
okay to use something sometimes, doesn't mean you should use it
constantly and in all situations; that the differences between levels of
swears is a difference in intensity and danger; that just because something is okay in a mild form doesn't mean it's okay in a stronger form; that being allowed to use something doesn't mean you'll want to or that you SHOULD.
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