My Convertible Life

Friday, November 13, 2015

Learning the #$@&%*! language

As one of the millions of big and small decisions my husband and I make as parents, we agreed that we wouldn't keep words a secret from our kids. And by "words," of course, I mean the "bad words." It's an age-appropriate, as-needed sort of lesson set, but we figured that all those bad words would seem less alluring, less powerful -- and (hopefully) less likely to get hurled at us -- if the kids knew what they were and knew they could ask us about them.

So over the past few years, we (my husband, mostly) have been dealing out a few choice ones now and then during bedtime chats with Junius. We started with the less controversial ones -- like explaining that the S-word isn't actually "stupid" or that the D-word isn't actually "dumb." As he got older, the words got a bit stronger, including the F-word, the A-word and so on.

Junius seems to savor these tidbits of verbal exotica and feels empowered not to use them. In fact, his favorite swear phrase, borrowed from this book, is to shout, "Curses and foul language!" Try it -- t's really quite satisfying.

We've only just started sharing the first words with Pippi, or so I thought. Which brings me to a little story that just needed to be captured somewhere, so here goes...

* * *

One day this fall while we were standing around at school pick-up, my friend H was sharing concern that her daughter (Pippi's friend) had somehow wandered into another person's virtual house in Minecraft and read an inappropriate word that was plastered on the wall. H was consulting Junius, as a former Minecraft fan, about how her daughter could have gotten into someone else's space in the online game.

Junius, after clarifying that he no longer played Minecraft (because I guess 5th grade boys don't want to get lumped in with 2nd grade girls), told H he wasn't sure how that could have happened. Then he asked the all important question: "What was the word?"

My friend looked at me, I nodded, then she told him: "Well, it was the F-word."

Junius gasped quietly and looked gravely concerned, immediately understanding why H was worried about her young daughter's experience.

Somewhere during this conversation, Pippi had strolled up unnoticed and was listening in. As she watched her brother frown knowingly about the seriousness of the matter, she leaned in a little closer to H and looked up at her.

"Mrs. H?" she asked in a hushed voice. "Was it fuck?"

* * *

So there you have it. No good parenting deed goes unpunished.

If your kids are playing with my kids and come home with some new vocabulary, you're welcome. And my apologies.

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