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“Heeeeyyy Smart-Nice-Beautiful Lady!”

“Heeeeyyy Smart-Nice-Beautiful Lady!”

Riding high after she performed her newest ultra-cool feat – buckling herself into her car seat – (yes, no more wiggling my back in the rain thinking I can somehow dodge the drops while strapping her safely to her seat!) Hazel bounced and sang a version of “Heeeyyyy sexy lady.”

Errrrrew. Record stop.

“What’s that?” I asked. Amelia quickly quipped “Uh, that is a bad word Hazel.”

As if she didn’t usher this lyric into our lives.

My response, after I explained how 2012 that song was, “There are no bad words guys, we just don’t use that one.”

Thankfully they didn’t ask why.

“Yah Haze, we don’t use that word.” Okay Amelia, I get your six-year-old superiority to your sister, now stop with the echo. I mean, that’s right, Sweetie.

Car Seat Collage Final
I’m sensitive to language. A disheveled word here, an exclamation point there!, or a misplaced pronoun can send us spinning. That doesn’t mean I use proper grammar/language at all times, you may have noticed, but whether spoken or written I’m touchy, and a touch prudish, when it comes to words.

And the word “sexy”? Out of my sweet girls mouths? No, no, no. I’ve taken part in covered mouth snickers when adult themed words and phrases come from the mouths of our babes. But, I think that an appropriate level of displeasure, along with explanation, should be shown when our kids say things that, quite frankly, they shouldn’t.

It doesn’t seem to be enough to say “just don’t say it” and leave it alone, that has the ability to make a word taboo and their desire to defiantly use it in times of distress would be damaging for all. How do I explain “sexy”, without, you know, getting all into what “sexy” means? Ugh.

The latest dance craze stopped me in my tracks.
The latest dance craze stopped me in my tracks.
Hazel didn’t know what she was saying, there was obviously no reason to fault her for saying “sexy”. While she doesn’t know what it means, saying “sexy” alongside a silly dance is a foundation from which a building of women as objects and descriptors, used to downplay their role in society, is erected. I’m not a fan of that.

So, how do I appropriately discuss, with a 3 and 6-year-old, why, although PSY, LMFAO, and countless others use it, “sexy” is a word to be avoided? They didn’t ask, it blew over, and I can execute my ideals about language next time. Whew.

How sensitive are you to the language your kids use? What do you do when your kids use a less than appropriate word? What is the word you strike hardest against?


View Comments (21)
  • umm Can I ask what the kids are doing listening to PSY, LMFAO etc? I mean, you may like it.. but that’s why they make earphones 🙂

    • With all due respect for those who do, PSY and LMFAO are not something we listen to. However, it is difficult to avoid pop culture when out in public and we can’t be with our children everywhere they go. The point I was trying to relay is that it is important to know what is out there, what your kids are being exposed to and appropriately “however you see fit as a parent” explain it to them. I don’t find value in sheltering our kids and pretending things I don’t align with do not exist.

  • Hey! My daughter, Olivia, is in Amelia’s class! Small world! My 3 year old just recently figured out how to buckle herself into her carseat! I told my husband, “She’s potty trained and can buckle herself in, we are home free!” 🙂

    I have heard “Hey sexy lady” played at several kid friendly places lately, and it sort of stopped me in my tracks. I try hard to teach my girls that they are valued for things other than how they look to others. Their worth is in things other than being “sexy”. I struggle with how to start those conversations with a 3 and 6 year old.

    • Hello. Small world indeed – good to see you here. These conversations are tough with kids this age, I’m sure they get easier as they get older 🙂 Right? I’ve learned, because I tend to talk too much and want to explain everything to them, to let them guide the conversations — not easy. Especially with topics that have a profound effect on who they’ll be – we’ll keep at it though.

      See you around.

  • I have to agree with Shannon. If a parent doesn’t want their children repeating something, then they should not expose their children to it. Personally, I don’t find it cute when a 3 year old is shaking her bum and singing adult lyrics.

  • You can shield your kids when they are in your car, but not when they are on the playground, soccer field, etc. I switch stations in my car, but my 1st grader’s first use of the word “sexy” came for the playground at school where she told me the girls were singing “I’m sexy and I know it”- in kindergarten. I’ve told her its not necessarily a bad word, but it’s definitely a word for adults only. Now that she is 7 and we are dealing with shorty shorts and skimpy clothes, we have real discussions about modesty, covering “boobie cracks” and clothes that are not for children.

  • I can relate – and that song is EVERYWHERE these days. Commercials, sporting events (they played it twice at the Havoc hockey game), etc. And you certainly can’t control what sisters pick up at school.

    I think this post is more about how you handle explaining tricky things to the littlest ones that aren’t quite ready to hear all the details, and less about trying to keep your kids in a bubble. As my kids get older I found being very upfront is the best approach for us – it demystifies things for them and, like you said, doesn’t turn it into a taboo.

    My friend was talking about this very thing this week when her boys were asking about what “sexy” meant. She explained it was a way to tell someone they were attractive, but it wasn’t the nicest word to use. She said most people don’t like being called “sexy” and to use “beautiful” or “handsome” instead. The end!

  • I feel your pain! My son has been to three birthday parties recently at a roller skating rink, and each time I’ve left with the Gangnam lyrics etched in my brain and my son awkwardly dancing along like a drunken cowboy. Even worse were the young (my son is SIX) girls out dancing provocatively in the middle of the rink to the Wobble song. YIKES! It’s impossible to control everything they are exposed to, but helping them process it and learn what is acceptable and age-appropriate to mimic is just another one of those parenting hurdles we have to jump.

    I love Stephenie’s friend’s explanation of the word and the redirection she offered. At that age they can certainly understand nice vs. not nice, and if we leave it at that it doesn’t hold that irresistible, mystical draw of being labeled a “BAD” word. Because what kid can resist the “Oooooooohhhh, you said X,Y,Z” that only calls more attention to it and instantly seals it in their vault of words they must remember to use at the next most embarrassingly inappropriate opportunity.

    • The dance moves freak me out too – yes, age appropriate. I don’t know that, as a dad to two girls, I’ll ever find an appropriate age for those dance moves 🙂

      I too found value in Stephenie’s friend’s recommendation.

  • Even if you successfully shielded your child from television, radio, and peers (by homeschooling perhaps) eventually your child will be exposed to words you don’t want them to use. That’s what this article is about.

    Every family has their own list of no-no’s (ours includes HATE, SHUT-UP, a bad word Daddy once said :), etc.). Explaining to young children the intricacies of language is really hard and I’ll take all the advice I can get. I actually appreciate the suggestion that there are no “bad” words, just words we don’t use.

    Our daughter had definitely learned the phrase “bad word” and it’s going to be hard to unlearn that. She’s even identified the “King of bad words” (her term) and she frequently adds new words to that imaginary list.

    As a former anthropologist, I’m very curious how she comes to identify some words as being worse than others and must conclude she watches us for cues.

    • It’s amazing the cues they pick up – I have to remind myself that those eyes and ears are always perked and sucking the world in. Good point about the different lists of no-no’s that we all have – I’m sure there are some we all agree on, but I think it’s important that although we may use a certain word in our home, it’s important to be conscious that other people could be offended by it – perhaps better to find a replacement word altogether. Finding replacement words can be a fun exercise with kids — helps explore our language even further.

  • My kids are obsessed with this song right now and it makes me ill. Well said Papa!

    • Thank you – we’ll get through it. I only imagine what my folks would’ve written about what was coming out of my room as a teenager.

  • My daughter was singing the exact same song last week, after one of the teenagers in children’s church played it on her phone. Yes. She heard it AT CHURCH. This is one of 10 thousand things you have to deal with as a parent, and I have kind of decided that I correct it, bit the bigger deal I make about it, the longer she retains it. She hasn’t mentioned it since…but that doesn’t mean that school doesn’t afford a plethora of butt and pee and whatever else juvenile jokes. It is hard to shield them, but I just try to fix what I can.

    • True enough about your ‘…the bigger deal I make…” comment. I’ve definitely pushed too hard at times and had it blow up in my face. Sometimes you just have to hum a little song and move on.

  • I have yet to hear the whole song, I’m a country music fan! But it’s usually kids music around my kids. Sadly my kindergartener has learned who Justin Beiber is. I can’t even stand to hear my kids say butt, it just doesn’t sound right out of tiny mouths! Btw, I have lots of family in Madison, WI!

    • Ah, the Beib – thankfully he’s stayed apart of fast-forwarded commercials for award shows in our house. I cringe at the thought of “boy band” posters going up in their ‘tween’ bedrooms – I have time.

      Hey, cool, Madison, WI is a great place – hopefully you’ve been able to visit them and enjoy the Terrace and State St..

  • I agree that kids are exposed to a variety of inappropriate words and “dance moves” at a young age. The example I’m going to use is a swear word… When my daughter was trying to put a puzzle together when she was about 3 or 4, she couldn’t get one of the pieces to fit correctly, so she said a swear word. I informed her that even though she said the word in the correct context, it was not a nice word to say and it makes some people very upset. I informed her that sometimes when people get really upset, they say things they shouldn’t say and hurt other people’s feelings, and that she should try not to make the same mistake. I rarely have to remind her not to say those words again.
    On another note, my son picked up “shake your booty” and the corresponding “dance” at daycare when he was 2, and I’m still trying to get rid of that song/dance.

    • I like your example and the time, that we doesn’t always have, you took to explain the ‘why’ of it. Another interesting piece to your example is that didn’t matter where it came from. You made me think of the times that I was more concerned with “Where’d you hear that?” than correcting what we found inappropriate. That question alone takes the situation to a whole new level.

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