Last summer without warning, I attacked parents who refer to their kids as “kiddos,” and teachers who call their pupils the same.
Why? Wrote I:
Kids are not bunnies, folks. They are human beings—beautiful and lovable we hope, but also, self-centered, dangerous little fools, with all the self-control and good judgment of your average meth addict. As anyone who has had any prolonged exposure to any of them well knows. Being their parents, their teachers, even their aunts and their uncles in any kind of an authentic way means not thinking of them, and not pretending to others to think of them, as “kiddos.”
And now I come across this Facebook post, from a woman in my preppy little hometown of Hudson, Ohio.
“Littles?” When “kids” is just as good? Why?
Language innovations always happen for a reason. What’s the reason for “littles”? It strains my powers of imagination, but does not defeat them.
The term “toxic positivity” comes to mind. Are they “littles” when you’re hollering at them to put their fucking shoes on? Are they “littles” when they spill your glass of water in your lap for the second time tonight? Are they “littles” when you are so bored with them that you start thinking about vodka at eleven in the morning—or you find yourself inviting strangers to your house?
No, they’re “littles” when you’re talking to other mothers and wanting them to think you’re the happiest mother in the world. Which, when you consider its effect on other muddling-through mothers, amounts to rhetorical bullying.
Also: “Littles,” just like “kiddos,” has the simultaneous effect of dehumanizing children—or pre-humanizing them. Try to imagine the greatest communicator to children, Fred Rogers, referring to kids with these insipid terms? You can’t.
So: Knock it off, Mommies.
* And why do I pick on mothers here? Because a father who would feel compelled to strain this hard to whitewash the mottled emotional reality of being a parent is almost impossible for me to conceive of, although that may be a failure of my imagination, too. I used to push my kid on the swing with one hand, and read Harper’s magazine with the other.