Today I am inspired to share my preschooler’s pre-juvenile foray into the murky waters of the first curse word utterances. And, in keeping with his character, he went straight for the F bomb. My boy said the F-Word.
I arrived at our lovely Christian daycare one day to discover an “incident report” waiting for me at the front desk. The administrator looked at me and smiled. “Sign here, please.”
“Today, C used the word F**K. He was told by the teacher that it was a bad word and not to use it again. He used it a second time, and we discussed not using bad language. He spent the afternoon in the principal’s office.”
I thought an expletive.
I wasn’t ready for this day. I was ready for the “peeing off the play equipment” report, and the “punched a girl who took his shoe” report. Because sometimes, you just gotta pee, and sometimes, you know, you just gotta defend yourself, man. I get it. But I was not ready for this yet.
The many signatures on the form chronicled all who had already passed judgment. How could I feel such shame even though I’ve never uttered the word in front of my kids? I looked up briefly and considered having the “where-evah did he hear that word?” conversation with the smiling form pusher. Nope, not happening.
I found Captain F-Word hanging his head and I did what every good parent does when faced with child-induced perplexity: I stared.
I now recognize this as parenting brilliance. My father utilized this tool, and we shuddered. We truly believed that silence meant he was about to commit murder, possibly with bare hands, likely causing blood spatter. We lived in fear of the silence. Silence was a bad, bad sign. I wonder now if Dad’s stone cold stare was calculated, or just witless luck.
As we walked to the car my daughter prattled on about the new Zhu-Zhu pet with the pink mohawk, and I walked along with my shades on, nodding but not speaking, somewhat like the presidential secret service detail. The F-Bomber walked two steps behind us with his coat dragging on the ground, bumping his lunch box against his knee. I looked back at him, but didn’t say a word. He grabbed the coat, walked straighter, held his lunch box at his side like a good little soldier, and scurried into the car, buckling himself in without the need to be reminded. Two points for non-hysterical mom power!
After a few minutes of silence passed, I started the interrogation. I put on my super-mean-but-calm-and-totally-in-control-mom voice.So, what happened? You know. I said a bad word. The “F” word.
Bad choice. (I can’t believe my own ears … yep, I’m going there …) So what is the “F” word?
I dunno. It’s just a bad word. But what does it MEAN? Just, you know, like, you’re dumb and stuff.
Ah, sweet sweet relief. He doesn’t know. Breathe in, breathe out. Still, I remain in cross examination mode. Objection! Nonresponsive. More? Really? More? Involuntary lawyer-mom response:I asked you, what is the “F” word?
I dunno. It starts with an “F.”
Don’t be smart. What was the word you said?
I just made it up. You made it up and it happened to be the “F” word (not a question). Then the teacher said not to say it again.
But you did (also not a question). Yes. Just, just by mistake. You said it once by mistake, and then you just decided to say it again – by mistake?
No. Well, yes. (silence) I’m sorry.
Now I think I’m on a roll. I’m really asking for it …So, tell me, what is the “F” word?
I can’t say it. I’ll get in trouble.
Well, how will I know what you said if you won’t tell me?
Will I get in trouble?
Not just for telling me. But yeah, you’re in trouble for already using it, TWICE, and you’ll be in trouble again if I ever hear you using it.
Okay. What will my punishment be? I’m thinking about it. I don’t want to tell you.
Well, I already know it. Then why do I have to say it? I just want to see if you know it.
Oh, yeah. I know it. Then say it. You told me not to say it. Don’t say it, just tell it to me. (this is how lawyers get their bad reputations …) Will I get in trouble?
We’ve been over this.
But I’m not allowed to say it.
Just tell me the word.
No. You’ll be mad.
Just say it. (now I’m just being ridiculous)
I’m just going to keep asking you. No. SAY IT! NO! SAY IT! FINE! I’LL SAY IT, OKAY MOM? I’LL SAY IT. I SAID THE F WORD. I SAID … I SAID … I SAID …
Fuh - What? Oh, no. No he didn’t. Hold it in, hold it in, keep that snot in your nose, look away, DO NOT SMILE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. Mad mom face, mad mom face …
Long silence, followed by whimpering and apologizing. Daughter is surely taking notes. More channeling Dad. Crickets.
Before I know what I’m doing, I say the unthinkable.Just so you know, that’s not the “F” word.
Oh. Whuh, what? It isn’t?
No, but it’s close enough. And if I hear you using it, or any other word that SOUNDS like it, you’re in big trouble. Okay, mom. I’m sorry. Mom, uh …. well, what is the “F” word?
I’m not allowed to say it.
Oh. Then how will I know it if you don’t tell me?
You won’t. That’s the point. It’s close enough.
Okay. But it’s not Fark?
If you say that, it’s close enough, and you’re in trouble.
Okay. Okay. So, don’t say “Fark?” Is that the word? “Fark?” That’s the word I can’t say? I’m not supposed to say “Fark?”
You’re in trouble.