"Don't be bold..."

I was with some long time friends and telling a colourful story when someone happened to infer what I was talking about was "bold". To that someone else offered up a detail from my past that I had forgotten, "Remember when your mom used to say, 'Graham don't be bold'".


It brought a laugh to be sure, and for a moment an adult's reflection on his youth — an adult interpretation of a child's interpretation of something said so long ago.

bold [bōld] ADJECTIVE: (of a person, action, or idea) showing an ability to take risks; confident and courageous.

I could not help but wonder how being told not to be "confident and courageous" had impacted me — a request to squash these virtuous qualities must have had some sort of impact. Why would a parent tell a child not to put these tools in his tool bag? What was my mother thinking? As I considered the shackles that had been thrust upon me so long ago I came across this:

Ná bí dána! 

It's Gaelic for "Don't be bold/naughty!"

naugh·ty [ˈnôdē] ADJECTIVE: (especially of children) disobedient; badly behaved.

It now seemed to make much more sense now because of my mother's Scottish roots and, as an adult, I could easily interpret some of my childhood actions as "naughty" — my loving mother's virtue was still very much intact. Ultimately this short trip down memory lane offered a glimpse into meaty topics such as the impact of words, the impact of words on children, how communication is precarious at the best of times, and how it's better to be "bold" rather than "naughty". It also had me consider another word —

reck·less [ˈrekləs] ADJECTIVE: (of a person or their actions) without thinking or caring about the consequences of an action.

I suppose it may have been more constructive if my mother had said, "Be bold, try not to be naughty, and definitely don't be reckless". If only I had a time machine.

Rest in peace Mary Margaret Edwards.