A few months ago I was working with a group of kids, and they were on a break for some play. Eventually there was a disagreement over a ball, resulting in the ball being thrown away by one of the children.
This distressed one of the kids who ran up to me, squeaking – quite upset, “He yeeted the ball, Mike, he just yeeted it!” There were tears, hurt, and anger.
For those of you who don’t know, “yeet” is an internet and meme culture word. You yell it when you throw something, or it can be used as a replacement for the word throw. It can also be used to invoke power – “you yell yeet for power, or Kobe for accuracy”.
Kids these days get a lot from YouTube and other kids. What adults may see as a silly meme-culture phrase, is just another part of daily language for kids. How many of us used slang that our parents didn’t get? I remember being 7 and everything was wicked. I still use rad. They tell me it’s making a comeback.
This was the first time I’d heard the yeet used without being used ironically or for comedic effect. This child was quite upset – and rightly so, the ball they were playing with was gone. I had to put aside the little smile I get whenever I hear ‘yeet’, because for me, it’s a funny word, and keep in my mind that a child was upset, and looking for help.
As a takeaway – don’t dismiss a kid – or anyone, for that matter-, or what they say, because they’re not communicating in a way you see as consistent with how they’re feeling. Or because you don’t respect the way they’re talking. For every ‘yeet’ there’s another word or piece of slang that might be nonsensical to you, but is an honest and genuine expression for someone else.