“Bad language is a stage all children go through, and it dies with time when they learn they’re not attracting attention with it.”
Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird
Caitlyn and Caleb have recently become aware of bad words.
Last week, Caleb returned home from pre-school and declared that we should never ever say the H-word or the S-word.
That’s HATE and STUPID, in case you’re wondering…
His teacher told the class that it’s not acceptable to say you hate something or to call someone stupid.
Fair enough, I thought.
We went on to discuss negative words, why we should not use them, different ways to express ourselves when we feel frustrated – and then I let the topic die a natural death.
… Until this bombshell exploded!
C1 and C2 were playing in the games’ room while I was preparing dinner in the adjoining kitchen.
Caitlyn: “I heard a boy in my school use the F-word today.”
Caleb: “What’s the F-word?”
Caitlyn: … (Silence)
Caleb (excitedly): “Wait, wait! I know. It’s FART!!”
Caitlyn (chuckling): “No Caleb, it’s not ‘fart’.”
Caleb: “It must be FRIGGIN’. Giovanni from my class said it once and our teacher said we cannot say it.”
Caitlyn: “No, that’s not it.”
Caleb: What is it then???
Caitlyn (with equanimity): The F-word is fuck.”
My life came to a grinding halt.
We do not swear in our house. I might let the odd “Damn!” slip out once in a while (and may think of a lot less unsavoury words when, say, a driver cuts me off), but, by and large, we never use bad language. Not in front of our kids and not even with adult friends and family. So I was taken aback that my just-turned seven-year-old knew this stuff.
“Caitlyn, you are right. That is the F-word. But how did you know that?” I asked, trying not to allow my panic to rise (along with my rising tone of voice).
“A teacher was passing by when she heard that boy say it. She told all of us to NEVER EVER say it again,” explained Caitlyn. “If she hears anybody say it, they will have to go to Mrs. Crawley (School Principal). Don’t worry, mum, I will never use bad language.”
So there you have it. My kids now know what the F-word is. I guess it was bound to happen. I just did not expect it to happen so soon. Now I’m just praying they won’t ask me what it means…
So tell me, what are your views on bad language? Do you swear? Do certain situations warrant it? How do you control these things when it comes to your kids?