4-letter words

I try very hard not to curse. Foul language slips out occssionally, usually accompanied by an apology. One word that I grew up thinking was hilarious was “shit”. I know it’s officially a word that is frowned upon, but you have to understand why I think it’s funny.  My dad used to tell this story about a guy that worked at the company (our family owned a moving company) named Al Day. When Al was upset or flabbergasted, he’s cry out, “Great gobs of goose shit!” My dad employed that phrase many times during my youth, always attributing that phrase to Mr. Day. It still makes me laugh.

The four letter word that really irritates me right now will seem utterly benign to you, I’m sure. It’s seemingly innocuous on its own. It’s the tone used to deliver it, and the context in which it is used that really gets to me. The word is “nice”.

I have had a number of conversations with people during recent months during which the topic of our adoption was discussed. I have heard phrases like, “It’s so nice that you are giving a home to an orphan” and, “It’s so nice that you are helping the less fortunate.”  The same types of things are said to me when people talk about the trips we’ve taken to Guatemala, or the volunteering I do at The Caring Place and the Food Pantry. “It’s so nice that you help out.”  “It’s so nice that you spend time with those people.”

There is nothing inherently wrong with the word “nice”. I use it often. What I do not like about it is how it is used. The tone of voice in these cases is sort of patronizing and condescending. It implies to me (the recipient) that the person delivering those words does not truly value what I am doing.

When people use it to talk about our adoption, I get angry. I feel that it implies that we are doing this because it’s fun, or as though people don’t think this will be OUR CHILD – that this will just be some kid that we take in. We are not adopting a child to be “nice”. We are adopting a child to bring them into our family as our son or daughter. We would have adopted even if we were able to have children naturally – it just would have been a few years down the road.

When people use it in connection with my volunteer activities, I feel that it implies that I have this cute little hobby that really doesn’t mean anything. I have truly felt like some people feel that my volunteer efforts are not as important as the work they do as lawyers, teachers, doctors, accountants, analysts, etc. Rather than taking the time to help others, they are spending time doing something else. I am not saying that’s wrong – not at all. But I feel as though they view whatever it is that they are doing as superior to what I am doing.

Our language is so complex as it is. Factor in facial expressions, intonation, and context and you have a whole lotta crap to deal with to get to the real meaning of what someone is trying to convey. As I said in my previous post (the pet peeve one), I am sure people have good intentions. And perhaps I have thin skin and need to buck up. But I can still vent about what irritates me. Great gobs of goose shit, it’s late! G’night.

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One thought on “4-letter words

  1. K- for some people they have no concept of being “called” to adopt, or go on a mission trip. Some folks are so self-absorbed they have never taken the time to think outside of themselves. To them, it IS “nice”. It’s just another way you’ve chosen to spend your time, like they may do when they take a ski vacation or buy a boat. The beauty of folks like you sharing you call, your passion…is that others get a glimpse of what it might be like if THEY had passion…vision….openness to something beyond or outside of themselves. It’s inspirational and God will use your willingness to serve in more ways than you will ever know.

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