Tuesday, March 24

Just Words

Success means _________.

Fun means _________.

Retard means _________.

Love means _________.

Value means _________.

Boring means _________.

Sporky means _________.

Go on, fill in the blanks. You can do it.

Done?

Bet your answers don't match mine.

*********************************************************************

Frequently when the topic of my college educations comes up, I hear comments like, "Wow, you sure aren't using THAT!" or "Whatever did you plan to do with that?" or "Seriously? That's a real major?"

Apparently having a degree in Spanish Translation doesn't seem all that valuable in the world of a working mom involved with corporate training. On the surface, it's not. I don't translate anything in my work. I don't even own a Spanish dictionary right now.

However, there is one major lesson of translation that I use every single day of my life.

The meaning of words is in people, not in words.


Think about it. All those words above? Have different connotations for different people. Your life experiences shape how you interpret a word. For example, some people would say that success means being good at what you do. Some would say it has to do with income levels. Some would tell you that it's being happily married with 2.5 kids. Some would define it entirely different.

For some people, it's a pleasant word. It gives them a chance to revel in their own personal success as they have defined it. For others, it's a hurtful word that conjures up memories of discussions about disappointment, goals not reached, and choices. It's an innocent little word, yet the emotions attached to it can be very different for each person who hears it.

Context can help to clarify the speaker or author's intention when using a particular word, but the meaning of words is still open to interpretation by the person receiving the message.

The meaning of words is in people, not in words.

*********************************************************************

Alexis and I walked casually through The Emporium, in search of the perfect memento from the Magic Kingdom. We studied t-shirts, we dug through piles of stuffed animals, we glanced at household items. Finally we stumbled upon an aisle filled with miniatures figurines.

Alexis enthusiastically pointed out all of her favorite characters. "Look! It's Minnie!" "I love Daisy." "There's Cinderella!"

Then she saw it. The shelf with the characters from Aladdin.

"Momma, I miss Jasmine. Not purple Jasmine. I miss white Jasmine," she said in her stereotypical high-pitched cheery little kid voice.

It wasn't toddler rambling. It wasn't an incoherent statement. It was a fact. A fact that instantly tore open a hole in my heart and brought tears to my eyes.

She misses our sweet little Lhasa Apso who passed away last fall.

I do, too.

Alexis didn't mean for her words to hurt me, but they did.

32 comments:

  1. Aww, that's sad. The girl always seems to pull out an "I miss Pussty" (our last cat) just when I am thinking about him and missing him too.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sunday, I was going through Morgan's dressers and closet. She was having a great time throwing herself in the piles of clothes. She stopped. Sat there looking sad and when I asked her what was wrong, she very quietly said "My miss my Baylee boy."

    Her words hurt me. Did she mean it? Of course not. So, I know EXACTLY how you feel. Unfortunately.

    ReplyDelete
  3. And here I was going to be all "Me" and fill out some fun stuff for your word list, but, by the time I got to the end I was sad. You are so good with words sometimes. And I love reading your little stories.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Aww. I know. Kids have a way of opening up raw spots without even knowing it.
    :(

    ReplyDelete
  5. You are too entirely right...

    I think you need to teach me to speak Spanish so that I can understand everyone down there in Ft. Lauderdale/Miami. Oy.

    ReplyDelete
  6. You've spoken the words from my heart. I hear so much of the R-word in the DS world, and there's a huge movement to ban it being launched this weekend. While I agree that it's derragatory to people like Micah, the meaning is in people.

    I am confessing right now that my own kids use the word retard. I do nothing about it. I choose not to take offense. It's been a slang word for so long that nobody really associates it with those who are retarted. I am in the minority in this in Holland.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Little Man still talks about Satan's Dog, who's been gone for four months now. It was easier when they were younger and forgot everything, wasn't it?

    ReplyDelete
  8. How sweet. I feel so sad for you guys. We still miss our Smokey-boy too and it has been 3 years now.

    ReplyDelete
  9. So sad and so sweet!

    Very thought provoking post.

    ReplyDelete
  10. It's amazing how a dog can hijack your heart, isn't it?

    And FWIW, I think your major sounds incredibly cool.

    ReplyDelete
  11. We had to have a dog put to sleep a few months before our son turned 2 (he will be 5 in June). I was worried that he wouldn't remember her, but sometimes, out of nowhere, he says "I miss Peanut."

    ReplyDelete
  12. Aw...little kids certainly have a way of "cutting through the bull", don't they? So brutally honest...

    The picture of her with Jasmine is sweet...

    ReplyDelete
  13. Look at those two peas in a pod, I mean chair. Sorry you are missin' on your doggie. I know that can be hard. Hugs.

    ReplyDelete
  14. It doesn't get better as they get older.
    We put our dog to sleep about 6 weeks ago. A few nights ago my 22 year old came over, gave me a hug and said "I miss Smokey". I could have cried.

    The whole using your major thing. I have a masters in Admin Justice. I am managing a dental office.
    The late/great columnist Sydney Harris once said "An education is never wasted"

    ReplyDelete
  15. That's tough . . .

    She loved. You loved. Something you both share. Bittersweet.

    Those lovely, perfect little face. Geesh . . .

    ReplyDelete
  16. On so many levels, this is a really great post. The poignant ones, as well as the deep ones because you are right- the meaning IS in the people and not the words themselves.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Awwww. That must have been hard to deal with in the middle of Disney World! Of course she had no idea, but you are right. The meaning of words is in people.

    I still miss my childhood dog and the dog we had after that. They truly are part of the family, and it's great that Alexis remembers her.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Anonymous1:54 PM

    You should photoshop that mark off Alexis's head. It looks awful in this pic.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Truly, nothing thrills and breaks your heart like your kids. They do have a way of bringing out emotions you never knew you had.

    On a lighter note, baby Alexis' Winston Churchill expression in the bottom picture is priceless!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Awww! What a great story! Kids sure have a way of saying things don't they? They say whatever comes to the top of their head and that is what I love about them, even when it hurts. I hear you on the whole major thing. I have a degree in Elementary Education, but have never taught (other than preschool and subbing). I hear so much "but why did you waste that degree?" and I get so mad. People don't often think about how their words might affect others, including Mr./Miss Anonymous above. . .

    ReplyDelete
  21. Seriously that made me tear up! I will be nicer to my dog today.

    ReplyDelete
  22. You are right about words. that was put very eloquently. I'm glad you wrote it in English and not Spanish. I received mainly D's in Spanish.

    I'm sorry Alexis' comments hurt you....even though she didn't realize it, of course. I'm gonna go give my dog a hug. (I almost wrote my hug a dog. Well...same difference)

    ReplyDelete
  23. What the hell is wrong with anonymous?!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Aw, poor you. Poor Alexis.

    And poor Anonymous for polluting the world with stank.

    ReplyDelete
  25. BTW, Alexis is just as beautiful WITH the hemangioma and I don't ever think the "mark" should be photoshopped.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I'm so sorry. Loss may be quiet and still in our heart at times, but it's there. Waiting. I'm glad Alexis remembers and misses.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Oh my...Anonymous..I have had a freckle on my nose (large freckle) since I was a baby...it is part of ME...I got mad when it was photoshopped out of my highschool grad pic....really mad!

    ReplyDelete
  28. Dude - wtf is wrong with Anonymous? What a douchebag.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Words are powerful, alright, and I can imagine how her words hit your heart. But what strikes me more is Alexis' ability to connect with, yet differentiate the character Jasmine from your angel puppy. That's one smart AND BEAUTIFUL kid ya got there, darlin!

    ReplyDelete