It happened. I knew it would someday, but I still cringed when it actually happened.
Last week, my 7 year old whispered to me, “Mommy, I know the bad F word.”
“Oh really?” I asked, a little dubious.
“Yes, Mommy. I can’t say it, but I can spell it….it’s F-um-um-U-C-and I think-K.”
Honestly, I felt a little ahead of the game because I seem to remember a particular nephew of mine using the word in a totally correct context when he was 3 years old. I even remember my mother-in-law saying to us over a year ago, “you two must never curse in the house because Andrew things that ‘darn it’ is the worst thing you can say!” Heh. Yep, we are non-swearers. Yeah, right. My kid plays with older neighborhood kids and even rides a bus but it is only now, at 7 1/4 years old that he heard (or realized he’d heard) a real, honest to goodness BAD WORD.
This new revelation has now launched a new “is this a bad word?” game in our home.
“Mommy, is ‘ridiculous’ a bad word?”
“Mommy, is ‘drat’ a bad word?”
“Mommy, is ‘dumb’ a bad word?”
“Mommy, is ‘stinky’ a bad word?”
It’s also creeping into everything they see and hear now. I have tried to limit their exposure to swearing as much as is reasonable. I monitor the TV shows in our house and have recently allowed the boys to watch some YouTube videos from time to time. This only started because of certain things on YouTube such as Rainbow Loom videos, Minecraft walk-through videos and old Super Friends episodes from the ‘70s. The YouTube rules are that (a) they can only watch it in my presence, (b) they can only watch videos I’ve seen in advance or on channels/by certain people I’ve approved in advance and (c) if I miss something and they hear a bad word or see something they know they’re not supposed to and don’t tell me immediately, they will lose their tablet for some scary amount of time.
I may have mentioned in the past that I strongly dislike the words “stupid” or “hate”. Now, I’ll hear from the other room, “MOMMY, THE GUY ON THE MINECRAFT VIDEO SAID A BAD WORD!! HE SAID ‘STUPID!’”
My response right now is consistently about the context of the word (Are you using it to hurt someone?) and also about the time and place for the words (Would you say that in class to your teacher?). But this is new territory for us right now, so we’re rolling with it. Of course, the 4 year old is now keenly aware of the conversations and may be the one that will test the limits a little bit more.
As for the moms, we are trying to choose our own words carefully now that the kids’ antennae are up. I’m not sure “fudge” or “fiddlesticks” will roll off the tongue as easy for us, but we will try.