I went to pick up my 3yo, E, from his grandparent’s house one day and after the usual run-down of they day’s events, my mother-in-law told me that he had said F***ers. And he had used it “appropriately,” that is, in the correct context. I was shocked. Admittedly, I’ve been known to use the F-word in its many forms, and I’ve gotten better at calming down so that it doesn’t just fall out of my mouth. I do try really hard not to swear around kids, and while I love a good f-bomb, that particular version of the word is not one I use (often). Though she had told him it wasn’t a word he should use, I figured I should bring it up with him again. Because, you know, I’m the parent and I guess these are the sorts of things we should deal with.
On the way home I said “E, grandma told me you used a word today that you shouldn’t.” He said “Ohh, f***ers!?” Thank goodness he couldn’t see me in the front seat as I had to stop myself from laughing. So what did I do? I called my husband because I wanted him to be in on it too! After my husband picked up the phone, E told daddy how he said “f***ers” at grandma’s house. Through controlled giggles we told him that it was not a nice word, and that he shouldn’t say it. If he’s frustrated, he can say “Aww, man!”
After ignoring his use of the word a couple more times in the next few days, it seemed to disappear. And then about a month later as we pulled into the pre-school parking lot, he started up again, playing with a toy he brought in the car, saying “Don’t do that you f***er!” I held my breath- maybe I misheard? Nope. He said it four times in the span of 30 seconds. My first thought? “F**k.” and then “Yeah- he gets it from me.” And then, “oh crap- he’s going to drop the F-bomb at school. My kid is going to be that kid.” So what did I do? I attempted damage control.
“E, honey. That’s not a nice word. It can hurt people’s feelings and make them mad.”
“Um, well…it’s just not nice and there are some words that we shouldn’t say.”
“Yes. That. Please don’t use that word.”
“But I want to.”
We were sitting in the parking lot and I really had no idea how to “handle” this. I still don’t know if this is the best course of action, but it’s the one I chose. I said:
“Okay, E, listen. Just don’t say it at school, okay? The teachers will be mad and it’s not nice. It’s not a word for school, okay?”
His response? “Okay.” But can you really trust a 3-year-old to do what they say they will?
I was nervous while he was gone and happened to see a mom-friend whose son is in E’s class. I apologized in advance if her son came home shouting F***ers. I constantly looked at my phone thinking I was going to get a phone call to come get my foul-mouth child. No calls came from school that morning, and a few hours later I went to get him. As we got in the car, with a big smile on his face, E said “Mommy, I didn’t say f***ers at school.” And all I could say was, “Good job, honey. Thank you.” Sometimes you gotta go for the small wins!
I will say that after that this, the F-bomb hasn’t really showed up again. I would like to think it’s at least in part because we didn’t freak out over it and tried our best to explain the issue and set boundaries. Or, he just got distracted by something else. Whatever the reason, the only people dropping F-bombs at our house are the grown-ups.
What mortifying moments have you had with your kids?