In certain situations, say, a dinner party, or a funeral, conventional wisdom holds that some subject matter is off-limits. Some topics are just a tad more provocative than others and have a tendency to cause unnecessary tension when broached.
It’s better for everyone if typically contentious or potentially divisive topics are avoided, such as: politics; religion; a fondness for the Yankees; an appreciation for the Red Hot Chili Peppers; money.
There are no guarantees those topics will raise any hackles with your specific company, but they are more likely to than others. So it’s usually best to stay away.
The same holds true when you’re in the company of toddlers.
The specific topics are different, obviously. For one thing, my toddler and I are totally in agreement about the Red Sox, and he doesn’t know shit about politics. He’s a Libertarian, for Pete’s sake!
But there are still a handful of things that can’t be said around my two-year-old without shit getting real, and fast. Here’s a sampling.
Things Not to Say In Front of a Toddler
Disclaimer: The list does not include “no” or “later” or “not right now” or “after,” all of which set my son off but which are far too common to police out of your daily dialogue.
Snack foods – Cracker. Or cookie. Or “gummy snacks” or chocolate or candy or chips. My kid hears one of those words and he comes running like a cat who hears a can-opener. Just yesterday, I had to hide behind my counter just to have a snack, like Henry Hill at the end of Goodfellas, a shnook, because I knew if my son got wind of the fact that I was eating something he likes without him, the feces would hit the blade-less Dyson in a hurry.
Park – Say this one and you’ll hear nothing but “I wanna go park!” over and over for the rest of the day, and when you don’t hear it it’s only because his screams have gotten so high-pitched they don’t register to human ears. Kids are my pro-drug.
Nap/Bedtime – In the toddler thesaurus, listed under “nap” and “bedtime” you’ll find similar words such as “[indecipherable shrieking noises]” and “I’M GONNA BURN THIS FUCKING PLACE TO THE GODDAMN GROUND IF YOU TRY TO MAKE ME GO TO SLEEP RIGHT NOW I SWEAR ON ALL THAT IS HOLY I WILL HAVE MY REVENGE.”
The names of his favorite shows – We have a little tablet which we’ve basically given to him (FYI, if you ever need to borrow it, I’ll need a few days notice to Hazmat the screen), and let him use watch a bit of TV or Netflix, mostly when we’re at the bar and want him to stop throwing the place-mats and the menus and the sugar packets all over the place. We can’t even say the word “tablet” around the kid, let alone “Thomas” or “George” or “Gabba” or anything else that might remind him that such programs exist.
Bubbles – So help me God, if you say the word “bubbles” within a hundred yards of my son, I will spend the rest of my life ensuring that the remaining days of yours are a living hell.
We try not to slip up. Every day, we try outsmarting him by spelling words out, we try waiting until he’s in the other room, or we hold off on discussing bubbles and the plot-twists on “Super Why?” until he falls asleep. Unfortunately, he must have gotten his hands on a Whisper 2000, because despite our efforts he hears everything. We’re constantly walking on egg shells.
You know that episode of “The Twilight Zone,” the one they used in the movie, where the all-powerful little kid terrorizes an entire town into doing whatever he wants at all times? No?
Have kids. You’ll live it.
What are some words you try to avoid saying around your kids?