Even though my husband and I both love a good-timed and cleverly insulting salty curse word, the day our daughter was born we had an unofficial pinky swear agreement – let’s try and keep our language G rated around her tender pink ears.
(Essentially this makes me a verbal Jekyll and Hyde. The second she is with Grandma and out of earshot, my mouth lets loose with a barbed tangle of profanity that would make a pirate blush. It just feels so good).
It’s been surprisingly easy. My go-to trick is to talk like my Grandmother. “Oh SUGAR.” “For heaven’s sakes!” “Well, I do declare that is just poppytalk.”
I’m like a Victorian heiress in the body of a Gastown Mom.
We do our best but we are just two of the mouths that spray vocabulary in her midst. We can be mindful of our verbiage but our friends don’t have childproof mouths and the music we listen to has some bumping lyrics that run a little ripe.
Here’s the thing though: unless the Beastie Boys rap about a “Motherf-cking Popsicle!” or a “Sh-tty iPad” or “F-ck you Elsa!” she just doesn’t hear it, hear it, you know?
Then, last week on the drive home from daycare, we were listening to a typically benign podcast about a dating service Start Up. (As cool and tired working Moms are wont to do).
A very clear, very emphatic “F-ck You” was emitted by a woman in the heated midst of a recalled confrontation. The car speaker is right behind Stella’s head. I froze.
A beat. I heard a mumbled sing-song “f-ck you, f-ck you, f-ck you” from the backseat.
I took a breath. Remembered all the good advice I’ve been privy to. Slowly turned the backstabbing podcast down and said over my shoulder casually, “Hey love, those words are just for adults, okay?”
A pause, then a whiney demand, “But I waaaant to say f-ck you, why can’t I say f-ck youuuuuu?”
You have to just imagine these blue words dropping out of a cookie-stained mouth, in the highest chipmunk pitch. I had to bite every square inch of my cheeks to not just laugh and laugh.
I repeated myself. She reluctantly complied and we kept driving in what now felt like uncertain silence. Had I efficiently snuffed out this parenting bonfire or was it still secretly smoldering?
As soon as we got home, I told my husband the story with laugh-tears in my eyes. He was so sad he’d missed the bombs dropped and detonated so casually in rush hour traffic.
I assured him though, in just a few years time, when she hates our guts to infinity, we will be on the receiving end of those very same words, many many times over.
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