Vocabulary is very important. I could write a book on how vital it is to be aware of the words we choose and what they mean—to us and to those listening.
This lesson was brought to me once again in an unexpected way. My son is turning twelve next month. He, his sister and I were hanging out together when I brought this up. I said, ‘You are turning twelve! The Big One-Two!’
I immediately wanted to share a memory with them that is still so very clear to me from my own twelfth birthday. I began with, ‘When I turned twelve, my dad actually came to visit me on my birthday and said those words: The Big One-Two.’
Before I could continue, my daughter interrupted me. She asked, ‘When your dad came TO VISIT?’ Now, I was thinking that it was remarkable he actually had even been there for my birthday, but I could see for my daughter the concept of a visiting father was absolutely foreign.
I reminded her that my parents had divorced when I was little. She said she knew, but hadn’t thought that it would mean living apart from my dad even on special days. She said she couldn’t imagine not having both of us in the same house. We say words, but don’t always understand the entire meaning of them. My daughter knew the WORD divorce, but hadn’t comprehended the full breadth and depth of it.
I was frankly a little shaken by the interruption, because I had intended to share a happy memory with the kids. I am a child of divorce—isn’t that a funny phrase? As though Divorce is my parent. Another example of how words convey meaning.
As a child of divorce, my vocabulary is such that a child who has not been touched by divorce is thrown by it. She couldn’t hear my story, because a ‘visiting dad’ was so very strange that nothing else mattered.
I pray it stays that way.