Did Johnny Really Just Say the F-word?

So last weekend, we were pretty certain that our two-year-old son said the word, “f***.” My husband and I weren’t positive if that’s exactly what he was saying at first. He said it a few times in the car on the way to our daughter’s birthday party at The Horse Farm. We brushed it off as a possible misunderstanding of him saying something else, even though he speaks pretty clearly for his age. It could have easily been another word though like, “truck, shark, farm, or fork.” At least, that’s I what I told myself.

However, the next day, he got his foot caught in his chair at the kitchen table and clear as day, “fuck!” was proclaimed out of his sweet little mouth. My husband’s widened eyes met mine, and our jaws dropped.  There was no denying that’s what he said and it was even in the correct context. I hate to admit this, but I am fairly certain he learned this from me…

I used to never swear. I would actually get mad at my college boyfriend when he would swear. I hated it. However, I’ve noticed an uptick in swear words spewing out of my mouth since having kids. Even more so since having two kids. I mean let’s face it, raising little humans is hard. Frustrations mount up daily and if not taken care of, in my case, they volcano out in varying forms of profanity. Surprisingly, my five-year-old daughter has never sworn, not once. But my son seems to pick up on much more, he repeats everything. He is at that age where he is half parrot, half monkey.

The scene from Meet the Parents keeps playing in my mind when the little boy repeats, “ass-hole.” Great going Ben Stiller.  But it happens, I know that. I just never thought my two-year-old kid would be saying the “f word.” In a way, it’s funny, like a story you tell when your kid is older, “Do you remember when Johnny swore for the first time?”  But in another way, I feel so saddened by this.

Let’s call it a wake up call. What I say and do, my kids pick up on. Obvious right? Well, not totally obvious, apparently. I have quite a sailor mouth when I’m alone. I guess though, I am not really alone when I am home with my two kids am I? I have a feeling that they pick up on so much more than I realize… That scares the bleep out of me.

The other day, I spilt my iced caramel macchiato all over our kitchen floor. I almost cried actual tears. I was so looking forward to that latte and it was expensive! Plus now, I had to clean up another mess. So completely silly to be upset over something like that I know, but I was.  My daughter was coloring at the kitchen table when it happened and noticed how upset I was. She offered encouragement and advice. “It’s okay mom, you can make coffee here at home.” She showed empathy. “I’m sorry that happened mom and that you are sad.” For this I am extremely proud of her. At least I am doing some things right. I am also glad I didn’t throw a two-year-old tantrum in front of her. Although, believe me, I wanted to. I didn’t swear either (out loud anyway) which again, I wanted to.

There must have been a time though (Honestly, times. Probably multiple times.), where I did swear out loud and it was heard by little ears. It was digested and stored in his memory (please be short-term) only to be retrieved at a later time and shared randomly during a family car ride.

What I say and do now significantly impacts my kids. If I ever want to feel like I’m a superstar being pursued by the paparazzi, I just take a look at my kids. I’ve got a couple of A-game stalkers with stealth observation skills right at my side. They remember things I say and do. Expect when I ask them to clean up…they don’t seem to hear or remember that.

It’s okay for my kids to see me frustrated or even angry about something. This is an emotion we all experience.  But, how I handle myself in those instances is so incredibly important. Let’s just say I’m working on it.

This past week I have been more conscious about what I say in general but mostly when I’m around the kids. There was that incident where my son shoved a full-sized towel in the bathtub full of water as I was getting him out. There was also the glow stick leakage event in my daughter’s bed. Both times, in my mind I thought, “I can’t believe you shoved the f-wording towel in the bathtub and I have to use about four dry towels to clean up the wet walls and door after bathtime.”  Or, “I saw this f-wording glow stick on the chair by your bed before I went to put your brother to sleep, I knew I should have put it away.”

The positive thing was I didn’t say anything inappropriate outloud. Was I visibly upset, you bet. But I held it together. A lot of it seems to be perspective for me. Things aren’t as big of a deal as I make them out to be.

The day before last, I pulled out our little potty for John to try and peak his curiosity a bit. He started sitting on it with his clothes on, asking questions etc. He then noted there was not water inside. “Nope buddy, no water in this potty.” I walked away for a few minutes and came back to John elbow deep in the actual toilet swishing the water around with his hand.  “Oh no John! We don’t put our hands in the toilet water, yucky!” We quickly and thoroughly washed his hands. Then Hadley and I burst out laughing. I could have easily gotten upset about this, but instead I approached the situation with humor and made an effort to understand my son’s curiosity. It actually was truly hilarious to see him swirling his hand around in the bowl. Later that night, Hadley told me that was her favorite part of the day and I had to agree.

I am happy to report, John has not said the “f-word,” again since last weekend. Maybe it was just a fluke… We shall see. Whatever the case may be, my goal going forward will be to try and look at these incidents through the perspective of my kids and with a little bit of humor. Am I going to get mad sometimes, of course. But taking a step back to look at the bigger picture, will help things not to seem so terrible and knock me down a few notches on the cussing scale.



Photo credit: John Stivers

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