Sunday, November 13, 2011

Out of the Mouths of (Foul-Mouthed) Babes

After watching a video of an adorable baby soothed by the sounds of Biggie Smalls, a friend commented that she hoped "Biggie" would be the girl's first word, rather than some other choice words from the song.

Curse words are hard to avoid. If a child ever rides in the car with an adult during rush hour traffic, he or she is going to hear a word or two at some point. It's sometimes difficult to control those outbursts.

In our family, we have a story about the time my dad was driving and my little brother, Wesley, was sitting in the back seat. My dad exclaimed loudly about the poor skills of a fellow driver and my brother said, "Dad, what's a dumb duck?"

My friend, Liz, recently told me a story about her 10-year-old daughter, Emma. Emma informed her of this surprising fact: "Mom, I know what the F word is."

"You do?" Liz said.

"Yes. It was one of my vocabulary words," Emma said.

"Oh really?"

"Yes. Fluke."

Here's the thing about curse words: At first, kids won't have any idea what those words mean. They'll probably misunderstand them. "F*ck" sounds like "duck." Duck makes sense in a child's world. That other word doesn't. Eventually, they'll catch on to how the word really sounds. This is when they will try out a curse word. On you. Possibly in PUBLIC. To see if you notice. To test it out. To gauge the meaning of this strange new word that, despite Emma's contention, will never appear on a fourth grade vocabulary test.

If you're a parent, you know it's coming, so don't get too upset about it. Ask yourself this: Did my child at least use the word in the right way? I'm pretty sure this is a  sign of intelligence. Plus, like Liz, you'll have a funny story to tell later.

When my son, Jacob, was four years old, he looked out the front window and saw the yard man.

He turned away from the window, looked at me, and said:

"What's that f*cking guy doing?"

Understandably, I was shocked.

I said, "Are you kidding me, son? Isn't it obvious? He's mowing the f*cking yard."

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