Ken writes:

We picked up this great rubber toy for Hugh at the Te Papa museum in Wellington. It can be pulled and stretched and contorted into all sorts of shapes and still bounces back. Its bulging eyes can be squeezed and stay tackily stuck in the squeezed shape for a moment before springing back. It’s very satisfying.

But the toy was nearly taken from Hugh in Wellington by Dot’s cousin’s (8 or 9-year old?) son. He thought it was an inappropriate toy for a baby.


Because of the breasts.

What breasts?

He thought what I take to be eyes were breasts. Everyone understands at the level of his own depravity, as the Russians say.

But what was really delightful about the whole thing was the way he justified it by saying it was an ‘inappropriate’ toy.

What does it mean? is the meaning changing? Did it always have the connotations of moral disapproval it seems to have now, like a form of mild rebuke, or has it come to have these because people are reluctant to just come out and say something is wrong. Saying something is wrong takes some courage, and you have to be sure of your case. But saying something is inappropriate has the same consequences (if it is inappropriate, one shouldn’t do it) but not the same justificatory responsibility. Is it like judging without judging. You don’t do it and I won’t say it is wrong.

I don’t think I’ve managed to articulate what interests me about the word. Any comments?

(p.s. of course breasts are appropriate for a baby!)


5 thoughts on “Inappropriate

  1. laura

    It always makes me happy when those Russian
    aphorisms can be worked into stories involving children. However, I’m not convinced that an 8-9 year old can attain a level of depravity that would justify pointing out that Hugh’s toy has potential to corrupt his nature. (Though, it is revealed by the lewd photo.) I think parents might be using ‘inappropriate’ as code for “I said,’no’, and don’t ask why”.

  2. Dot

    What I thought really funny was the way he put it: “I didn’t think it could belong to the baby, because it has boobies and that’s inappropriate.”

  3. Pingback: A child’s right to information | Ken and Dot's Allsorts

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