The Dreaded “C” Word

As a writer and reader I’ve developed a deep respect for words and how they’re used. Few things get under my skin like the misuse of words. “Love” should be something important in your life, not the latest episode of Pretty Little Liars. I’m guilty of doing the same thing, of course, but, as I always tell my wife when she finds a typo in one of these blog posts or I’m being overly hyperbolic (another pet peeve), I’ve got poetic license (I should actually get one for my wallet for funsies).

Anyway, there are a lot of words thrown around once you become a parent, many of which meant something completely different or absolutely nothing to you before entering the parent club. Boppy, Sassy Seat, Moby, Sophie, the million or so words for pacifier and all the rest come with the territory. I still have trouble understanding my wife sometimes, she sounds like she’s speaking Martian. Someone should come up with flashcards. Hey, maybe that’ll be the first piece of Pop Poppa merch. Anyway, there’s one word in the parental lexicon that I can not stand. The “C” word. Colic.

Why do I dislike this term used to describe babies who keep screaming? Because it’s nonsense. It doesn’t mean anything. It’s not an actual diagnosis, it’s just another word for cranky, but it gets thrown around like an actual malady. In the nearly four months I’ve spent with our darling daughter, I’ve come to realize that there’s always a reason why she’s crying, she just can’t communicate what’s wrong. Cries usually mean her diaper’s wet, she’s gassy, she wants to eat or wants to be picked up. There’s always a reason. Always.

Colic seems like a catch-all umbrella term that for some reason has lasted down the ages. What bothers me about it is that it’s a simple label that people will paste on their child, but there’s something else going on there. The kid needs something or is hurting or just feels bummed out. How would you feel if you were feeling down about something or had aches and pains and people wrote it off as “A case of the Mondays?” It’s belittling and dismissive and doesn’t get to the root of the problem, which could potentially be serious.

Look, I get it. We want to know what’s wrong with our kids when they’re screaming, especially if it’s for a prolonged period of time. We want to fix them and we want the crying to stop for their benefit and ours. And that’s a good thing, but putting a tag like “Colic” on screaming is like a smokescreen. You can still hear the screaming through the smoke, but you don’t know what it really. It’s distracting and doesn’t get to the root of the problem.

So, I call for a boycott of the “C” word. I’m all for “fussy” or “ornery” or just plain “pissed off.” They all explain what’s going on a lot better than some made up, medical sounding term that doesn’t really mean anything.

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