Once upon a time there was a young thirty-something perfectionist mama with her two year old daughter and one year old son. She walked her kids confidently- even a bit proudly- into the children’s room of the local library. Her children were always the ones to sit and do puzzles quietly until class started. Her kids were always the ones to walk-not-run to the children’s video section to pick out a video they could watch during the week. Her children were the ones to wipe their hands after snack time so they don’t smear the library books with jelly or ranch veggie straw dust. Her kids were the ones who stared wide-eyed at other children when they wrestled during story time. So imagine her surprise when Mrs. Grundy’s daughter looked up at her one day and said, “I don’t want to do this “Bleep Bleep Puzzle anymore.”
The three librarians looked up from the circulation desk in surprise. The other mothers ushered their children away from the potty-mouthed little girl. Even the nannies who barely spoke English tsk-tsked at the little girl and her mother.
Ok So that priggish mom was me. And it was my daughter that dropped a two syllable cuss word in the middle of a quiet library last year. And everyone present really did react in quiet shock. And truth was, I didn’t know how to handle that. I’m an old-fashioned mom. I save the swearing for our soldiers and sailors. I try and teach my kids to show respect to librarians, books, and old people and all the things old-fashioned mannered people do (like use the right silverware, or say “I’m finished eating” instead of “I’m done eating”)…but I still didn’t know how to handle this situation. So, I laughed. Which I’m sure shocked the people present even more.
So I kind of set off on a quest to find out where my kid could have learned the swear word. After listening around our house, I came up empty. Playgroups, TV and music were all a big no. So I took it to the streets. (ok the streets here were Facebook).
I did an unofficial poll among friends and relatives some time ago and it seems like its typical of two year olds to drop swear words. Most of our kids have done it. Some moms shrug it off, some moms take their kids aside and say there are certain words that are for grown ups, and some moms shake their finger at other women AND their kids. A glance at Psychology Today showed that every kid experiments with bad language but no one knows if its really bad for you. None of this made me feel better. So I asked my husband about it.
Of course when you are embarrassed about something your kid does it has to be your husband’s fault right? Well actually, my husband hates potty language also. No judgement on other people (most of the time) its just something we don’t like. There are thousands of words in the the world, why use those? (Like I said we’re old fashioned). So when I asked him about the swear word he looked me straight in the eye and said our daughter learned it from… You.
“ME?! When do I curse?”
“Just about every time someone cuts you off in traffic. And not just in English either.”
I didn’t believe him until I was stuck in traffic with low gas. I looked down at my gas gauge and saw that it was low. So I turned on my blinker (because: manners) and promptly got cut-off by some crazy driver.
“Oh bleep bleep it. That car almost hit me.”
“See?” It was me.
Truth is, I don’t judge anyone for using bad language. We’re all doing the best we can. You’re not a bad mom if your two year old tries out a swear word. And don’t judge other moms by what their two year old says. I might want my kid to have better manners than I do, but I’m not perfect. Swearing in traffic is my own horrible habit. How do you feel about cursing? Do you swear? If you don’t, (not even in traffic) what’s your secret?