Yes, I know that true Star Wars fans will point out the (literal) holes in our family’s new code word.
Why do I want us to have a family code word? Well, it’s not for the safety reasons some experts prescribe (like when a new person comes to pick your child up from school, and your child checks to see if that person knows the code word). And it’s not to be permitted passage through the hallway when your brother has it completely blocked (that requires a magic password, silly!) Our code word is different. It’s designed to protect us from ourselves.
You know when you can just SEE things staring to heat up, go south, or come to a boil? And you just wish you had a magic way to stop it, right then and there, before people say things they’ll regret? Or when the tone is quickly and steadily devolving and people just aren’t being their kind selves with each other, but it feels like a juggernaut? Well, that’s where the code word comes in.
For one of my very good friends, the family code word is MANGO! It’s just random and silly enough to shift the mood from whatever seemed so serious just a few moments before it is spoken. I think it’s genius. But we’ve tried stealing their code word, and it just doesn’t feel the same for us.
So what is the perfect code word? One that makes you stop and think, or even just stop. And one that preferably helps you channel a lighter, kinder mood. I read an article the other day about a family who uses “ORANGE RHINO!” whenever it seems like someone is gearing up to yell. So maybe good code words all have fruits in them?
But ours doesn’t. Ours comes from Star Wars, by way of my five-year-old daughter. Whenever she has had enough play, enough chase, or just enough, she bundles herself up like a turtle and shouts, “FORCE FIELD!” The kids all know and respect the power of the force field (even though technically, a lightsaber should be able to penetrate it). And it just struck me today what a perfect code word that is. It conveys power, but let’s people know you have had ENOUGH. Though maybe we should tweak it to “salmonberry force field?”
Does your family have a code word that reminds you to take a breath, provides comic relief, or just gives a nice clear sign that people need a break?
Northwest Philly Parents is a partnership between Newsworks and Germantown Avenue Parents.