Communication can be very complicated. Especially when you are shielded from the harmful parts of languages during your early years and then having that shield break, which causes those harmful words to be able to reach your ears. This causes many curious kids to be exposed to a world of offensive language that they have no clue that it is actually offensive.
I remember when I was in third grade sitting with other third graders while my teacher was teaching us how to do addition when I noticed how my middle finger felt uncomfortable from all the writing we did, so I moved my middle finger upwards and the other fingers back into a fist-state and pressed my middle finger onto the table. I did a few “push-ups” with the finger before one of the girls turned around and saw it. I looked at her with a slightly laughing “what” expression, her expression was different. She looked surprised. That’s when she said to me “Ooooo! I am telling the teacher!”. I didn’t understand, what was wrong about having only my middle finger up? She got up and ran to the teacher, telling about what I did. I got up and walked to the teacher, still thinking about how is it wrong, when I then proceeded to ask why it is wrong to have your middle finger up. "Well, the middle finger is like saying a bad word to someone, so never have it up or you can hurt someone's feelings." She said it nicely, knowing that I never knew that I could offend someone with my middle finger.
Looking back on this event, I believe that my parents shielded me heavily from offensive words. That girl who told on me probably used her middle finger often until someone told her that it could hurt other's feelings. I always think that her parents didn't shield her from offensive language as much as I parents did as she knew about it when I didn't. She must had begun to use these offensive words when she heard of it, not thinking about what it actually means to others. I can understand how parents don't want their children to learn any offensive words, so they try to hide them from this type of world. But I think that’s a bad idea, because sooner or later, they will learn these words and use them unaware of the meaning behind it. Rather than shielding children entirely from these words, we should teach them about the words before they learn of it from other sources, because if we teach them about it, then they will be prepared and know what to do when they hear it because they will know what it means.
There was a time in fifth grade where I learned how bad the consequences of saying an offensive word could be. I was outside waiting in line for our teachers to take us in one day, and I turned around to talk to another student in my class. He was a white Russian kid, slightly taller than me, he cursed every now and then. Before I got a chance to talk to him, another student began to yell at him about something. I didn’t want to get involved as they look liked that were about to fight. A few second later, the russian student pointed at the other student aggressively and said “Fuck you!” I thought that he could have done that better, so I thought showing him a better way would be a great idea. I went to him and said “Let me show you how you could have done that better.” I then proceeded to put on an aggressive expression, pointed my finger out with a fast aggressive force, turned to my right and said "Fuck you!". It sounded pretty brutal to me, I even felt proud about it.
I realized who I manage to point to out of everyone, my mom. My mom had a very mad look and was coming towards me . "I'm dead" I said quietly. When she was a few inches away from me, she said "When you get home, dad is going to beat your ass like no tomorrow." She didn't yell it, but said it with anger.
This is the first moment in my life where I realized that the offensive word I had said came with great consequences. A quote that I had found while reading a story, called “Aria” by Richard Rodriguez, made me think deeper into this event of my life. The quote was “ I was a listening child...” (13). This quote made me feel that I was also “a listening child”, because I would always try to hear what people said around me. I heard words like “fuck” being used often in these conversations, so I thought words like “fuck” were ok to say. The environment that I was in exposed me to such words, but my parents never told me that the offensive words I heard were actually offensive.
Rodriguez, Richard. Hunger of Memory. Boston: David R. Godine, 1982. Print.