K is for Kiddo

Kid, kiddo, kiddie, are words used by many parents. Since they represent an extended meanings of child, they have their uses in certain situations.   

  But the term meant for little people can be heard in context that has nothing to do with babies or children.

 While at a basketball game the other day, a woman said, “the kids are coming.”

I didn’t know how old they were, so when a tall seventeen-year-old showed up, followed by his even taller nineteen-year-old brother, both with thick voices and facial hair, I had to readjust my perception of the woman and her sons.

Maybe it was easier to say kids. The word is ingrained in our general psyche, but as parents we work to teach independence and gently push our sons and daughters down their paths. Referring to a  6-foot-tall adult as kid or kiddie sounds counter intuitive.

In the work place, same story, but with different connotations. I heard a male co-worker call after a young professional woman, “hey, kiddo.” If I saw her cringe, he must’ve seen the same. But if reactions change our vocabulary and attitude, it didn’t happen in this case.

File:Frans Koppelaar - Portrait Mijke.jpg
             Kiddo?                                          Or kiddo?

Let me also say that as a writer I spend a lot of time looking at variations of words and weighing meaning in different circumstances. And speech is different from writing.  I get that. It’s possible this is much ado about nothing.

But there are certain associations we assign words, and if kid is not associated with a child, it could easily denote immaturity, disdain, or carelessness.

“Careful with words,” the fox told the prince, “for a writer might hear them and use you in her story.”  :)


Young business women, courtesy dressity, com;  Portrait “Mijke”, Art Studi Frans Koppelaar, permission from Frans Koppelaar (from Wikimedia Commons)


19 responses to “K is for Kiddo

  1. Hi Silvia .. the business chap was out of order I’d say .. the mother – that’s fine .. because we can laugh and admire their young adulthood ..

    But I love the quote of the fox …

    Cheers Hilary

  2. The power of words. Really quite incredible that how a word is spoken or given the context it can either be a term of endearment or a slight.

    Great post.

    Writing and Other Life Lessons

  3. Interesting thoughts about words we use often. For our adult children, we still say things like the kids are coming home. Thanks for the insights. Also, thanks for visiting my blog.
    Mary Montague Sikes

  4. I get it, but I still call my 18-year-old son and my 21-year-old daughter my kids.

  5. I think it’s infantilizing to call adult or almost-adult children “the kids.” It’s bad enough my ex-“fiancé” is still called by his baby nickname, but that’s a whole other story.

  6. My boss calls us kiddo at work. I think she does it intentionally to be demeaning. It tells me a lot about her.

  7. Ugh! That workplace example made me cringe! I guess I’ve got used to a workplace where the gender ratio is roughly 50-50 and evenly distributed up & down the ranks. Nobody, as far as I can see, even notices gender, we’re all just people doing technically challenging jobs.

  8. Thanks for visiting my blog. I still call my grown sons (ages 37 and 41) kids. My mom called all five of us kids until the day she died. We WERE her kids. Child, children sounds so stiff to me. I called the girls I worked at the nursing home with kids…and they called me mom (and somtimes granny). Nothing demeaning to me. It was just our way of referring to each other. There was no cringing at all! They knew when NOT to cross the line. As did I.

  9. Well, it sounds like the fox had a lost of sense. I find that as well in my work place. When people are just slightly older than you then they think you are a kid and they are the grown ups, when in truth, we are all adults. Great post and great point. Thank you for visiting my blog.

  10. Never really thought about the word kiddo – use it to address some close friends and also my son but not my daughter. Wonder why…… Also made me think about why I used my children’s middle name when I was calling them about something not good.

  11. I’d think about kiddo in terms of a youngster, as well as an older man talking to a younger one. Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

  12. I can’t imagine someone calling another person a kid in the workplace! That’s insulting.

    Parents though, are different, because no matter if a child has become an adult, they’ll always be your child. Child (and kid, since it basically means the same thing), not only refers to age, but to a relationship between two people. People have adult children, they have old children, their children have children. But they’re still our children, there’s no other word to describe them.

    Rinelle Grey

  13. I agree with you, it all depends on the context. I could see a parent referring to their son or daughter as “Kiddo” regardless of age- 19 or 49, kiddo seems appropriate. My mother still often refers to me by my childhood nickname of “Dolly” even though I’m a grown woman. That’s her right, she’s my mom.

    In business, on the other hand, and especially in the context described, that seems like sexism or at least ageism and makes me think the speaker feels threatened by the person they’re trying to knock down a peg by calling “kiddo”. Certainty not appropriate professionalism.

I welcome your thoughts.

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