My kids call homeless people hobos. This may or may not be sensitive, politically correct, or kind. I'm not sure. I used to work in homeless shelters, so it's important to me that my kids learn the whole story behind homelessness, and that they see people on the street as human beings with dignity who deserve compassion.

And still, my kids call them hobos. I do not love this, but this whole teaching them compassion thing is a process, and I'm trying to place this in the larger context of how they see us, their parents, talk about and treat poor people. I'm working towards getting them to drop "hobo" from their lexicon.

But they have taken things a step further. In one of those twists of language that is a hallmark of childhood, they think that the epithet "HO" is a shortened form of hobo.

And to complicate matters, we have good friends who moved to Idaho.

So, when we talk about our friends who moved, the kids invariably dissolve into a little back and forth:


"No! YOU DA HO!"

They repeat this several times. I cringe.

This is wrong on so many levels I am just not sure how to address it. Do I stop them, and explain what is actually meant by the term "HO?" Um, no. Do I let them essentially poke fun at each other by calling each other hobos? Is that being compassionate to homeless persons? Um, no.

Usually, I just grip the steering wheel a little tighter, and try to think of some distraction to change the subject.

What language mishaps have your kids gotten into?

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Anonymous said…
My kids also use the word "Hobo". What is that about? Is there some pop-culture connection that I have missed? I have never used that word, where is this coming from?

Homemaker Man said…
Ha! Though she's gotten better, mostly my little girl just swears too much. I wonder where she gets it?
Erika said…
Ben drew a jungle picture in K. He points to the monkey and says, this is Kaliya. My heart leaps to my throat, as she is one of two african american girls in the class, and I am horrified that somehow he has made a racial slur. "Why is that Kaliya? Because she likes to hang upside down on the bars?", I think to ask. Yes, he answers, and she drew a monkey on her sheet and named it Ben. Phew!
Viv said…
iCarly uses 'hobo' and so do my kids...and the children of everyone else I know who has cable, or that have friends with cable, etc.

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