The Ultimate Swear Word… and other things my mother taught me
*Setting the scene – At this point, Littlest Guy was about 5, Johnny was 7, Gracie Girl was 9.*
Littlest Guy: Mom! Mom! The neighbor said a bad word.
Me: You’re not supposed to snitch. What word?
Littlest Guy: The C word.
Me: *eyes bulging* WHAT?!!!
Littlest Guy: *gulp*
Me: What word that begins with a “C”?
Littlest Guy: *blink, blink… shy grin* Can I saaay it?
Me: Yes. What word?
Littlest Guy: Craaaap
Me: Oh. Yeah, that’s okay.
Johnny: (standing quietly behind his brother through the whole exchange) Wait a minute. What word did you think he meant?
*One Year Later… in the middle of a conversation in the car…*
Johnny: I can’t wait to be old enough to use the ultimate swear word.
Me: What’s the ultimate swear word?
Johnny: I don’t know, but it starts with a “C”.
*Last Year… Gracie Girl was 16*
Gracie Girl: *expels a profanity laced diatribe about the latest atrocity visited on the teenage psyche from the nemesis of all that is holy – the gym teacher*
Me: I see you finally learned what the “C” word is.
Gracie Girl: Please. I’ve known that word forever. I’ve been in the car when you’re driving.
What was the point of this post? Mostly it just amuses me.
But as a whole, I think kids learn a lot of stuff from their parents. The stuff you don’t want them to pick up and, occasionally, when the planets align just so, the stuff you really hope to God they get without having to learn the hard way.
They don’t forget as much as we want to believe they do, either. They hold these little memories in their heads pretty much forever. I have memories that are still firmly entrenched in my psyche from practically my toddler years. I remember getting stitches in my forehead and the whole accident that led up to it – I was 3. So why don’t we, as parents, realize our kids will carry memories for the longest?
I guess it’s because you can never really tell which ones will stick. I didn’t mean to teach my kids that word. I didn’t even think I used that word unless it was so completed warranted I couldn’t help it… I always preferred the word “twatsy”. It’s cuter and has a nice, little flourish as it leaves your tongue. I guess my “cut-off-in-traffic-everyone-else-on-the-road-is-a-tool” mindset has a worse mouth than I do – which is damn impressive, really.
The other thing, and this is probably truer than any other psycho-babble reason you’ll hear for why we assume our kids don’t comprehend or remember things – we don’t want to be the reason they need a psychiatrist later. And we judge ourselves at least as harshly as some of those moms on the playground… okay, maybe not… some of those moms could hold the ultimate swearword crown for decades. But still, we assume, hope, light candles, and wish on stars that our kids didn’t actually hear whatever it is we said when we forgot to stick with the G rated version of the truth.
Here’s the fabulous thing. The things you say and do when you’re not thinking will stick more completely than the stuff you plan; because it’s honest. Those are the little glimpses into who you really are, your real voice, your real humor – off the cuff and honest. Those planned after school speeches to try to get your kid to be the best version of what the world thinks they should be – those don’t work so much. What they pick up is the character you actually exhibit.
Okay, it’s fabulous for decent people with foul mouths… not so fabulous for rotten people with perfect etiquette.