During my time working in the education field, I have learned that it is NOT okay for children to use potty words. So of course, children all across the country (I’m assuming) are giggling over “poop” and “pee”. So, when a kindergartener tattles that his rug buddy is using the word “poop”, I have to enforce this rule. For the record, I do not agree with this (among many other silly) rules that we teach children. There is so much taboo that we create in the lives of children. Children, by nature, are curious. So, when they ask questions and an adult makes the curious process uncomfortable for these children, children slowly learn that there is shame in confronting curiosities.
The shame carries on into adulthood, so instead of becoming educated on all “taboo” topics, most adults sweep their curiosities under the rug. Those feelings of uncertainty and doubt grow into seeds of prejudice and discomfort. I used to believe in the past, that it was offensive when somebody asked me “What are you?” Like, I was an alien from a different planet. Until those same potty-mouthed kids started asking me. I would feel discomfort, then I would become upset. Then I realized, I too, had been sweeping the topic of my culture under the rug. Sometimes, I tried to even sweep my pride for my culture under the rug. It wasn’t until I had to tell a kid that “poop” was not to be used in the classroom that I realized what I was doing. Instead of educating (which is my career path), I was creating this obstacle.
So, now when somebody asks me, “What are you?” I proudly tell them that I was born and raised in California, but my parents are Taiwanese. I don’t ask them to guess or create a barrier between what they really mean to ask and have them awkwardly fish for an answer. If they have the common misconception that Taiwanese means I am Chinese or Thai, I explain it to them. I also create an opportunity to invite the person asking me to share what their culture is. All too often in the past, I would punish somebody for asking me by making them feel ashamed for asking. However, it is clear to me now that the only way to learn and to educate is to be honest and completely open. Obviously for some narrow-minded adults who insist to use this racial conversation as a way to share with me their prejudice and discriminations, I would rather choose not to converse with.
For now, on the topic of potty words, I am in a position where I still am going to have to enforce the rules that somebody else gives me. However, if ever given the opportunity to talk about our digestive system in my own realm, I will definitely make kids see that poop and pee are natural things that we all do. Definitely something that makes people giggle, but it’s just as natural as eating and sleeping.