I have an extensive vocabulary. That’s not a boast. I say it to emphasise why I have no excuse for repeatedly using the same small bank of words. Probably the most irritating word I overuse is ‘cool’.

I don’t use the term ironically, but I appreciate that the fact I use it as much as I do means that the description can never be applied to me. ‘Cool’ has multiple uses, but I especially employ it to indicate I am listening. If someone is telling me something and I have questions, either because I don’t understand or I want to know more, I use ‘cool’ to acknowledge that I am paying attention and as a marker to ask them when the opportunity arises. If a conversation is long, difficult, or fascinating, and the speaker barely pauses to draw breath, the number of ‘cool’s I utter can easily reach double figures in just a few minutes. This can be extremely annoying. I know, because Little Chick has been parroting it back to me.

Everything is ‘cool’. Dinner is ‘cool’. Going for a walk is ‘cool’. Playing with toys is ‘cool’. Notably, I am not.

Constantly hearing ‘cool’ is irritating now. But I saw the opportunity to teach Little Chick about words having multiple meanings, demonstrating ‘cool’ as a gauge for temperature. This was particularly helpful as he doesn’t seem to show clear understanding of hot versus cold, something we need to keep an eye on. It even gave us the chance to sing and dance, when I asked, “What’s cooler than being cool? Ice cold!” (apologies for the earworm, but ‘Hey Ya!’ by OutKast is great for boogying).

‘Cool’ is a reminder that I need to say it in my head before I say out loud. Then I need to consider 1) is this going to irritate other people? And 2) is this going to irritate me when Little Chick starts using it repeatedly. If the answer to either question is ‘yes’ then don’t say it. That just wouldn’t be cool.

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