As a parent, you tend to side one of two ways on the issue of cursing: they either try to shield their children from that sort of language, or figure, “F* it! It’s a part of real life!”
It’s inevitable that at some point, kids will be exposed to “bad words”. But we try & keep cursing to a minimum around our kids… the same way you try to keep a playroom neat until your kids are old enough to, well, PLAY* in it.
(*throw, dump, spill, and scatter every last toy*)
I say “we”, but I really mean “me” because The Captain has FAR more self-control… damn him.
The first time we bumped up against profanity was the “F* Bomb Incident.” We’d been at a family function with several family members who have been known to drop the F bomb as casually as one would say, “Could you pass the salt?”. In fact, the F Bomb is often used in conjunction with a salt request, as in, “Could you pass the F*n salt?!”
We didn’t think our tiny tots noticed such profanity…. until the moment that, as I buckled our then 3 year old eldest into her car seat, she looked up at me, smiled, and said,
“Go F* yourself.” *smile*
Oh. OH. Uhhh… wow.
A variety of emotions hit simultaneously, such as:
- S^&*. Did she get that from ME?? No, I don’t use the F* that way. Whew!
- I’m being told to “go F* yourself” by a THREE year old??? After all the s%^ I do for her??
- She used it correctly. I don’t know if she’s a genius or just a really rude tiny person.
As a parent, you have to make the choice- you either address it, which risks making a bigger deal out of the prohibited word (rendering it MORE appealing), or you downplay it, hoping it will float harmlessly away instead of rearing it’s ugly little head at the next family function.
I asked #1 where she had heard that word, & she sang like a canary, passing up an aunt’s name that shall remain nameless.
Disclaimer: If you happen to be my child’s aunt, it could be you, but consider all of my kids’ aunts & you’ll realize, it’s just as possible that it’s not you, but HER. You know- THAT ONE. (Or maybe it IS you. No one’s safe.)
Thankfully, the infamous F* Bomb Incident died down, & we continued our blissfully curse-free existence, until the next time one popped up, known as the “Little Bear Incident”.
We were out to dinner with the in-laws, with #1 and #2 in tow. My mother-in-law began to tell a hilarious story- at one point, the story involved someone “dealing with this s^&*”. Now my mother-in-law is a savvy grandmother, & she was careful to cup her hand around her mouth & whisper the word to us to avoid little ears overhearing.
Or so we thought.
Days later, I tucked #1 into bed & prepared to read her a bedtime story. I held the book’s cover up, & said, “Do you know what this book is called?”
HERE’S the book:
And HERE’S #1’s response:
“YES! “Little Bear’s First S^&*!”
Again, a flurry of thoughts crossed my mind:
- That was F*n HILARIOUS.
- Play it cool. Play it co- oh, s^%&! I laughed.
- She can NEVER go to school with other children. Ever.
- Looks more like the lady’s taking a s^& than the bear, but still… that was good.
Other than getting a great laugh from the anecdote, Little Bear’s personal habits faded into memory, & thankfully no more cursing was heard from #1.
I wish I could blame outside influences for my kids picking up other bad words, but sadly, a few choice ones have been learned by…. ME.
I am not a big curser. But to be fully honest, I will admit that six kids and a massive spill of any kind later, & whispered choice words fly like a drunken sailor with Tourette’s.
I really, really try to watch my language around my kids, & generally scrape by with a few, “what the F*??”s muttered under my breath out of earshot. Because let’s face it, though I genuinely don’t curse as a habit, child chaos has a way of doing that to an otherwise rational, self-controlled human being.
And sometimes… within their earshot. Oops.
There’s something about a major spill that used to transform me from THIS:
My reflex to a huge spill would typically be, “DAMN IT!”. Or actually, more like, “Goddamittt!”. I blame my mom; though she is a lovely, God-fearing woman, if her dog grabs food off the table, we laugh because we know a pissed, “Goddammitt!”‘s coming up the pike.
But to bring things full circle, as a Christian, I was feeling bad about my poor choice(s) of words at times. I also felt guilty that my kids could be picking up any of my bad habits. So I made an effort to curb my profanity as much as possible. And was doing well…
‘Til the “God Damn Floor Incident.”
#s 4 and 5 had disappeared as I folded laundry. I found them in the bathroom, having tossed every last Rainbow Loom in the house all over the bathroom floor (remember these F*n things??)
Me: “You just got the looms all over the-“
But… I stopped myself. I did it. I chose wisely. I was modeling restraint!
Daughter: *big smile*: “I know! All over the goddamn floor!” *another smile*
Thankfully, I’ve come a long way with my words around the kids. The other day, I overheard #3 and #4 debating what the “S word” was. #4 (7) turned to me, & said confidently,
“I know the S word, but it’s really not nice. I’ll tell you!”
Me: “No, you shouldn’t say it…”
#4: “I know! It’s… *whispers* “STUPID”