So apparently my daughter knows the F-word. Come to find out, she also knows a lot of other swear words as well. She’s not alone, though. In the same conversation where she revealed her expanding vocabulary, it was also revealed that her slightly older brother also has a larger grasp of the English language then I had originally thought. Here’s how it all went down…
A couple of weekends ago my husband was out on a hospital call. I was doing dishes and starting to prep for dinner. I was in the kitchen and my six-year-old walked in to talk something over with me.
“Mom, is ‘a–’ a bad word? My friend said it’s a bad word but it sounds so silly it can’t be, right?” I took a deep breath and turned around.
“Well, as silly as it sounds, it is actually a bad word.”
Just then my barely nine-year-old son popped his head around the corner, and with wide eyes said, “Jane, did you just say the A-word?!” My face now mirrored my son’s as I asked, “You know what the A-word is?”
I realized I had missed the boat somewhere and needed to find out just how much my weren’t-they-just-infants-yesterday children knew about four-letter-words and their usage. We all bellied up to the kitchen bar and had a heart to heart.
Wanting to keep the conversation light and easy (I could already see the panic on my firstborn’s face as he realized what was about to be discussed, while my second-born daughter was all ears and ready to take notes), I casually asked them what other swear words they knew. Jane volunteered her list right away.
“I know damn and crap and the ‘S-H-word’.”
“Don’t say them out loud!” her big brother scolded. “Just say ‘D-word’ and ‘A-word’ and stuff!”
I assured them both that our house was a safe place where we could talk about these things without getting in trouble, and reminded them they could ask their dad and me about anything they heard or saw or wondered about and would never be in trouble for being curious or wanting more info.
Following up with my six-year-old on the ‘S-H-word,’ I smiled when she revealed it to be ‘shut-up.’ My oldest made eye contact with me and mouthed, “That’s not the real ‘SH-word.’” Oh boy.
I thought we had completed the list when my daughter announced that she knew one more word. I invited her to share and almost choked on my cold coffee as she proudly announced, “I know the word that starts with an ‘F’ and rhymes with ‘truck.’ What does it mean, mom?”
My son’s eyes were wide, once again and he looked like he wanted to crawl under the counter.
“Yup, that’s a really bad word, sis.” I said, trying to keep a straight face as I observed the two very different personalities of children sitting in front of me. Since it was obvious that my oldest was also aware of this particular word, I asked him if he knew what it meant. He turned to his sister and looked her square in the eyes and said, “That is the worst word of all the bad words. It means all of them put together, and you should never, ever say it.”
That sounded good enough for me so I nodded in agreement and let them have their moment.
I wrapped up the impromptu meeting by adding that some families aren’t bothered by swear words, they might choose to use them in their homes, and that’s totally okay for them. Our family has chosen not to use those words, though, so if I hear that my posterity has been adding a little spice to their speech at school or at a friend’s house, consequences will be enforced.
The kids agreed to the terms and the gathering was adjourned. They went back to their activities, and I resumed the dinner prep. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to laugh or cry. They’re growing up. They’re learning the less-than-lovely things about the world we live in, and I’m sad about that. On the other hand, what a cool moment, right? My daughter felt comfortable enough to come ask me about something she had heard at school and we were able to talk about it together. Isn’t that the goal? I know there are many more potentially awkward/shocking conversations in our future but, for now, I’m celebrating the fact that our home is a safe place to have them!