Thursday, June 15, 2017

Mama, Can I Say a Bad Word (F*cky Pants and Sh*tty Brains)



He's sitting on the bathroom floor, half-naked.  Somehow this seems to be a state which evokes the most interesting conversations between me and my son.  In this case, we were talking about something that happened at his school.  I don’t remember the details other than to recollect that it was a short episode about kids that I know chained together with “and then what happened was,” which launched him into another rambling episode of something that someone did to someone else.  It didn’t seem to be a particularly good thing, but then again, it wasn’t particularly bad.  Then, my son said, “Mama, can I say a bad word?”  I stopped, contemplated, and nodded.  Why not?
            “He was f*cky pants and sh*tty brains!”
            “F*cky pants and sh*tty brains, huh?”  In all of my almost 45 years on the planet, I had never actually heard the word “f*cky.”  Not once.  I know “f*ck” is an extremely versatile word.  It can be a noun, a verb, a participial adjective,  an adverb.  It’s quite amazing.  But “f*cky.” That was a new one.
            “Yes, f*cky pants and sh*tty brains!”  He was beyond himself in joy and naughtiness.  Here he was with full permission to swear, and he was doing it.  Not only was it okay, it was an adult giving him the thumbs up.
            “I’m okay with you saying it, “ I tell him, “but you know that I never swear at you.”
            “I would never swear at you.  I’m not swearing at you right now.”  We both nod in agreement.
            “Dada and I never swear at each other.  And he would never swear at you.”
            “But he does use bad words.”  We both laughed.  He most certainly did use bad words.  In earlier years, I would admonish him for swearing in front of our son. I didn’t want to have that kid who let out a strong of “Oh my f*cking God! What the f*ck is going on?” in the middle of a store when I accidentally knocked over the display stand of chips, or when someone else did that, or when he did that.  Because we all know that when a kid lets out a string of blue like that, it’s simply because he or she has heard it somewhere.
            No, I wanted my kid to know when and where the appropriate times of swearing were.  In front of grandma and grandpa?  No. At school?  Probably not.  In front of most adults?  Probably not. But with his friends?  I knew he swore with his friends.  After all, that’s where he learned some of his words.  Plus, those friends with older siblings tended to have a vocabulary rich with swear words. 
            In the car once he said, “Mama, tell me all the swear words.  That way, if I hear them, I’ll know what they are.”
            I responded, “Um, no. And besides, I don’t think I know all the swear words.  But if you hear something, think it’s a swear word, and want to know what it means, just ask.”
            Funnily enough, here was a case where he was teaching me swear words: f*cky pants.  Now, that was new.  Five minutes later, and after having repeated it in every possible variation, I let him know I was feeling full.  His face fell slightly. 
            “But maybe you want to say it three or four more times?” Yes, he did!  And he did so with gusto. 
            I knew that I would never have control over him swearing when he wasn't with me, but at least I could hope he'd understand discernment, and that was worth its weight in gold. 



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