That's a queer one

DONNELLE BELANGER-TAYLOR
Last updated 09:54 16/11/2012

My eight-year-old bookworm boy is at a stage I remember from my own childhood. His reading is voracious, and often above his age. He ingurgitates lexicon like a porifera.

He's very much an independent reader. Aside from our homeschooling reading, I'm pretty much just the supplier of the library card. His favourite reading spot is the couch, but when the twins get too disruptive, he holes up in his room. I don't always know what he's currently reading.

So sometimes his conversation includes words that he uses absolutely correctly in meaning, but pronounces wrong. He's never (or rarely) heard them, but has added them to his vocabulary via the written word.

Given his taste in space / airship / sailing adventure stories, a perfect example is "debris". I've heard so many of his narrative Lego sagas which include "debriss". I keep reminding him of the pronunciation, but he's such a visual kid that the written shape is dominant in his mind.

I particularly like it when I hear him use words that I've never used. It's a sign that his internal world is growing.

Yesterday he peeled and chopped the potatoes for dinner, for the first time. Woohoo! Aside from it being good for his fine motor skills, it's part of my plan to have him independently cooking at least one dinner a week by the time he's 12.

At the bottom of the potato bag, he found a particularly malformed specimen.  

"That's a queer one!" he said. I blinked and agreed.

I suspect he's been reading The Faraway TreeI tried reading it aloud to him when he was younger, but found it too hard to keep a straight face with all the Dicks and Fannies.

I didn't have a conversation with him about the other meaning of the word, but I think I will. He needs to know that while he might use it in the original sense of the word, others may interpret it differently.

And as for "gay"? If I ever hear my kids using it as a way to describe something as undesirable, pathetic or weird, I'll be having words with them.

I expect them to have a better vocabulary than that.

If you caught your child using homophobic language - knowingly or not - would you talk to them about it?

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