Best Behavior: Put a Lid On It

Language Skills

Our 5-year-old daughter has come home from her play group using four-letter words. I know most of the children in the group, which includes boys as well as girls. I think I know where the bad language is coming from — a boy whose parents let him run wild.We’ve had a talk with our daughter and told her that these are bad words, and she seems to understand. But I’m thinking that I should speak to the boy’s mother too, since he’s probably the troublemaker. Except that, I’m not sure he’s the one, and I don’t want to stir up even more trouble. But I don’t want it to happen anymore.— Anonymous, Sylvan Park

Let’s not be sexist. Girls can have tart tongues too. But you’re right: It’s probably a boy who’s having a big time using bad words. You’re doing the right thing, sitting down with your daughter and cleaning up her language, without using a bar of soap. If she understands, you must be saying the right thing; she may be a remarkably quick little girl.

If she hasn’t volunteered where she’s picked up her expanded vocabulary, go ahead and ask her — a wise move before you start polling the play group. But if you’re content with your suspicion, go ahead and talk to the boy’s mother and (while you’re being sexist) to his father. You won’t have the right to bar the boy from the playground, but even if they protest the purity of their son’s language, there may be fewer four-letter words in the air.

Speaking out against nasty talk, even from kiddies, is the right thing to do. Your 5-year-old may be watching and listening, and it will be good for her to learn early.  There may be more nastiness ahead.

Hats Off!

Last week my boyfriend and I dropped considerable bucks for tickets to a big touring Broadway show.Our seats were good, until, just before the show began, a couple of men sat down in front of us. One of them was huge, and he was wearing a hat with a big brim. My boyfriend asked him to take it off, but he wouldn’t. At intermission, we asked an usher for help, but he didn’t have any better luck. It ruined the show for both of us. My boyfriend was ready to punch the guy out. It was all I could do to stop him. We felt ripped off. We were right, weren’t we?— Mary Jane, Brentwood

A baseball cap, a pork-pie, a fedora, or even a sombrero — it comes off when a guy’s at a seated concert, at a church service or in a courtroom. There’s no reason to make distinctions between what’s okay and what’s not. But these days, if a fellow’s behaving himself otherwise, he’s unlikely to be thrown out of the hall because of what’s on his head.

Registering a complaint might help, but you stayed to the end of the show, bitter though it may have been, and it seems that the usher gave it his best try.If the show was a sell-out, there was no place for you to move.You were stuck. Let’s trust your boyfriend got the message.