Recently, I was feeling pretty smug about the fact that my kids don’t know any swear words.
We were listening to the radio, and as Pumpkin sang along to “Shut up and dance with me,” she changed the lyrics to, “Be quiet and dance with me.”
I thought it was adorable. The worst words, in her mind, were “shut up” and “hate.”
This was quite an accomplishment, I thought to myself. My mom’s side of the family descended from sailors – literally – and cursing came with the territory. I heard everything in the book as a kid. Somewhere around fifth grade, my mom thought she probably shouldn’t swear around us kids, but the ship had sailed, so to speak. (This was, after all, a woman who had a baseball hat with a hand flipping the bird coming out of the bill.)
I was using bad words with my friends before I finished elementary school. By junior or senior year I began letting casual expressions slip using the “H” or “D” words at home, and eventually the four-letter word that starts with “S.” By the time I dropped the F-bomb, a couple weeks before graduation, all my mom could do was laugh.
In the nearly 20 years since then, I’ve cleaned up my language quite a bit. I rarely curse at all, and I can count on my hands the number of times I’ve done it in front of my kids. (My mom, for her part, made herself a swear jar when Pumpkin was born and fines herself when she slips, with the proceeds benefiting the girls’ piggy banks.)
But you know what happens when you get smug, right?
A couple days after the “Be quiet and dance with me” moment, I picked up Pumpkin from school.
“Mom, I was really good at school today, and I got to pick something from the treasure bucket,” she said.
“Yeah,” she said. “But then it got taken away. Damn.”
She said it in just the right context, and with the right inflection. I started cracking up. Then I told her that’s not a nice word to say, and that she shouldn’t repeat it. And then I continued laughing.
This was probably not the most appropriate reaction. She actually seemed more upset by my laughing about it than anything. But it’s been a month, and she hasn’t repeated it again (that I know of) so maybe the laughing did the trick …
How loose are you with the language in your house? What do you do if your kids say something inappropriate?