Everybody wants their kids to hit that important milestone of speaking. Right up until they do.
We were the same. One of my concerns is that I sometimes have a dirty mouth. Not the “doesn’t brush his teeth” kind. My teeth are fairly immaculate. I’m talking the “swears more than he sometimes should” type. I never swore on what you would term a regular basis, but I’m a true believer that certain occasions call for a good curse word. Car accidents; for instance. If you are ever in one, even a minor one, having the F word be the first thing out of your mouth is a perfectly acceptable situation, in my opinion.
But at times in my life the definition of “acceptable situation” slide a bit; sometimes more than a bit. During those times, I would find things like not getting a letter in the mail sufficient reason to let go with a chosen word.
As in: “S***, the mail came and I didn’t get this letter to the mailbox yet.” Sometimes that S word slide over to make way for the F word. You get the idea.
Then we had kids. Now I had to worry about them running around the doctor’s office while I explained how S*** and F*** were the first two words they learned. “Yes, doctor the kids seem to be coming along nicely. Yep, hitting all the milestones. What’s that? Words? Well, yeah, they know a couple… Do they use them regularly? No; not if we can help it.”
I’ll be damned if I was going to be that Dad, so I tightened up the swearing requirements.
Fast forward to the end of a nice, quiet family dinner. I’m cleaning up dishes or some such when one of sons comes up to me and says: “Daddy, asswipe.”
Did he just say what I thought he said? I stood there staring at him; stunned. My first thought was “where did he learn that?” The second was, “what has my wife been saying behind my back?”
Despite myself a small grin grew on my face. Because during any parenting journey there are times you want to laugh at your kids in spite of yourself and the fact that you know it will only encourage rotten behavior. This was certainly one of them. Laugh now, encourage this here, and he’ll be running around saying this funny word for a week or more. Worse yet, all three will probably be running around saying it. Not because they know what it means, but because, hey, Daddy laughed that one time – it must be funny. I learned this lesson the really hard way. Some time early my kid picked up the words Poopie Eyes. This may or may not have been the result of me singing “Hungry Eyes” one day. I can’t recall. Anyway, he and I and my wife all thought this was hilariously funny. Poopie Eyes! It remained funny right up until he called a kid playing unnecessarily rough at the playground Poopie Eyes; not so funny anymore. Try to unteach a 2-year-old a word that his parents found amusing for a month. It is like alchemy. There just isn’t any way to turn iron into gold or a funny word into a verboten one. It just isn’t possible.
“Daddy, asswipe,” he repeated.
I looked into the playroom and asked my wife what she had been teaching our kids.
“Daddy, asswipe.” More urgently this time.
Shook from my shock I noticed his outstretched hands. He wanted his hands wiped; “answiped” in his lingo. I laughed. He hadn’t learned to swear yet, and my wife was not secretly hating on my behind my back.
At least until the next time I teach him something that comes back to bite me.