The Art of Teaching Political Correctness


No political correctness

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If I had one word to describe my daughter it would be: “blunt.” She calls it likes she sees it and doesn’t hold back. She’s three. My Biz e-Baby1 hasn’t learned that we live in a world of political correctness. Frankly, she’s just started to manage putting her thoughts in full sentences. There hasn’t been much time for softening or finesse. Her mission has been to communicate. 

At home, I often am on the receiving end of her politically incorrect messages. 

“Mommy, you have stinky breath.” 

“Mommy, you are not nice.” 

“I don’t like Mommy’s food.” (Usually said when I try to replicate what Chef Boyardee makes in a healthier form.) 

All of these remarks have been matter-of-factly stated to me in recent months. While surprising to hear at first, I appreciate her brutal honesty. At least I know where I stand. 

Outside the home, however, my daughter’s bluntness has caused a little more embarrassment (to me, not her.) 

We were at PetSmart not long ago waiting to pick up our dogs from the groomer. As my daughter and I were standing in the waiting area, another customer with their dog came up to the counter. This person had short, spiky hair, baggy cargo shorts, a loose fitting T-shirt, slip-on Adidas sandals and was about 5 ft 10’ and 250 lbs. This person’s dog was a cute, but a terribly yappy nervous beagle. 

Quite loudly, my toddler says to me and the whole store (pointing her finger), “That man’s doggy is barking.” 

It wasn’t a man.  It was a manly looking woman. My cheeks flushed. I bent over to whisper, “Honey, that’s not a man, that’s a lady.” She looked at me puzzled—like, seriously? I guess she thought I was yanking her chain because she then repeated, “That man’s doggy is barking, Mommy.” 

I am pretty sure the woman heard, but fortunately didn’t let me know it. (Thank you large, spiky-haired woman.) I don’t know if she was embarrassed or flattered that her look so closely resembled that of a man. I just hope our paths don’t have to cross again anytime soon. That was public embarrassment #1. 

Public embarrassment #2 was similar to #1 in that my daughter mistook a woman for a man. That time though, we were at the grocery in line behind a customer with short, curly hair and a nondescript appearance. Actually, the person sort of resembled that character, Pat, from SNL. My daughter happened to notice that the customer, (who we will call Pat for purposes of this discussion,) had placed some grapes on the conveyor belt as  Pat was unloading his/her cart. 

 In typical blunt fashion, my daughter publicly commented, “That man has grapes too!” 

Pat definitely heard my baby. Pat turned around, looked me up and down, and then went about his/her business of unloading food onto the conveyor. I gently smiled and hoped my eyes expressed an empathetic I’m-sorry-kids-say-the-darndest-things look. Pat could’ve given two sh*ts. 

Public embarrassment # 3 was not a gender mix-up, but instead an insult to someone of advanced years. (Or, is it more politically correct to say “youthfully challenged?”) Anyhow, on that occasion we were in line at the pharmacy awaiting our prescription refill while a harmless 50-something lady stood in front of us blissfully unaware of the scathingly harsh truth my daughter was about to unleash upon her. 

“That’s Grammy’s friend,” she said. 

Apparently, three-year-old brains think all old people are friends.  Heck, this poor woman may not have even been a grandma yet for all I know. She really wasn’t that old looking (said the 35-years-plus mom writing this blog).  I must be getting old. Luckily, I think she was deaf and didn’t hear a thing. 

Public embarrassment #4 was to a family member this past weekend at Biz e-Baby1’s third birthday party.  The victim… her great aunt. While doting over my daughter, great aunt stroked my child’s hair.  My daughter then grabbed great aunt’s hand looking quizzically and said, “Let me see your glass nails.”  She was referring to her finger nails which were long, fake and painted with polish.  (My nails are short, clear-painted, stub excuses for finger nails, so my daughter had never seen Lee Press Ons before.) There great aunt was, stone cold busted by my toddler for her fake nail wearing. 

There’s something to be said for having the freedom to speak your mind.  Nowadays, there’s so much sensitivity in the world that people can’t even be honest with one another anymore for fear someone is going to take things the wrong way.  You can’t tell someone they look nice, because it can be perceived as sexual harassment or you can’t celebrate holidays at work because it may not be in line with someone’s religious beliefs. As a nation, we are so damn sensitive to not offending others that most people walk around masquerading as a dialed-back versions of their honest selves. 

Now, before someone goes there, I certainly am NOT saying that children shouldn’t be taught manners or respect for other humans. I firmly believe in everyone’s right to worship however they want, marry (or not) whomever they want, have babies (or not) with whomever and however they please. All humans deserve to be treated with respect. 

But, where along the way do we go from being incredibly honest, open children into being overly politically correct adults? This need for uber sensitivity is also more extreme in The Unites States than everywhere else in the world. In my experience living overseas and while traveling, I have noticed that other nations are not as careful in their positioning of words. 

Parents have to teach and guide their kids, sure. But in many ways, I think life experience teaches us socially acceptable rights and wrongs. I am more open-minded and less judgmental than my parents. The art of political correctness changes with the times. I can only hope my children are more intelligent and accepting of others in the world than even I am.  That would make me a proud parent. 

My child has a long way to go before she stops saying things to embarrass me in the grocery aisles, but until then I plan to smile and ask people’s forgiveness. No, seriously, I also plan to explain that sometimes, people can get their feelings hurt when we say things too bluntly. For example, instead of telling mommy she has stinky breath, tell mommy she needs a mint. 

If you have better advice, I am all ears…advise away. 

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About bizemom

I am a busy working mom (get it... "Biz e-Mom"?) of three kids under the age of four. I have a white-collar day job, I have a night job as a mom, and an "in between" job as a freelance writer and blogger. What can I say, I am a glutton for punishment and I don't go to bed until 1 a.m. No matter how much I complain, I like being busy. That must be the Sagitarius in me--we get bored easily. Now on to the next adventure (I mean... venture!)
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One Response to The Art of Teaching Political Correctness

  1. Rick Smith says:

    Biz e-mom-
    I enjoy your column, they are entertaining and well written. Since mine are 6,4,2 (boy, girl, girl) I have also experienced this phenomena with my little people. I think you are on the money; as we go through life most people pick up “consideration of others” through osmosis and by learning hard lessons…hurting people’s feelings unintentionally. When my 4 year old said “he is wrinkly and smells funny” about and in front of a mentor, it was awkward for my wife and I, but what can you do? Most importantly they pick up cues from their parents and it sounds like you do a great job. Keep up the good work!

    Rick

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