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Six-Year-Old Cursing

Have I mentioned to you how much we love camp?

RR has been learning lots at camp. She is learning things mostly from the 8 and under set which gives a certain sort of spin that makes you wonder what’s going on in their little minds. Certainly they are importing parents, brothers, aunts, neighbors, sisters, friends thoughts and beliefs but in a distilled way that makes you wonder what was actually said on the other end of the line.

The first time she came home chattering about her newfound religious beliefs, Debra and I gave each other the side eye. What on earth was going on at definitely-not-church-affiliated camp? It was disconcerting to be participating in a sort of theological game of telephone where some child’s parents said one thing, that child told my child, and I was hearing some rendition that had been hybridized by two people who can’t tie their own shoes. We let it lie. On the whole, it’s harmless. In fact, it’s helpful. Better to start out knowing that everyone has beliefs and opinions and not everyone has to have the same ones.

On the other hand, the swearing I could do without. Surely RR’s school has prevented a fair amount of conversationally-transmitted blight and I have no doubt that the new school has just as low of a tolerance. But camp found us at dinner the other night and between bites she asked, “Mama, what’s the f-word?”

I don’t know how Debra’s mother handled this priceless piece of childhood, but mine was more than happy to tell me what words meant just so long as I a) didn’t use them and b) didn’t ask about the wrong ones. I’m in the words have power camp and if you really know what a curse word means, a female dog for instance, the power to hurt gets sidelined a bit. I’m not saying it doesn’t hurt at all, but we have A LOT of words, and there’s no need to rely on a few ridiculous ones when you really want to let loose.

So I told her and she nodded. And I mentioned that it was fine to say it in her bedroom or to herself but that she couldn’t use it in public. Fortunately, she didn’t ask me what sex was because that’s a conversation not covered in What Makes A Baby and that’s as far as we’ve gotten. Then we moved on to the a-word and the b-word. We all had a good chuckle at the s-word since we covered that one extensively the time the bed broke. After that though, she asked what the c-word was and there’s something deeply wrong about saying the word cunt at the dinner table. That was about the time that Debra mentioned that under no circumstances was RR to be the one enlightening her friends. Tell them to go ask their mothers, she said.

The rest of the dinner was spent with RR muttering fuckfuckfuck quietly in between bits of broccoli.

We were not nearly as composed when she was talking to a toy in the backseat and she said shut up. We were on her so fast I think I saw her head spin. Not in our house, not in our car, not in a box, not with a fox. No ma’am. She said it one more time under her breath and I thought Debra would pull the car over and take her out by an ear. Thanks camp, for everything.



4 Responses

  1. One of my biggest struggles so far with toddlerhood has been keeping a straight face when I’m disciplining Charlotte. Example: she got a totally maniacal look on her face as she lunged toward Catch and grabbed a fistful of her hair in each hand and PULLED. I laughed because the look on her face was like nothing I had ever seen before. Now, Charlotte will grab a fistful of whatever hair she can find, and she laughs like it’s a game. If I’d been sitting at your dinner table and I heard RR muttering fuckfuckfuckfuck I would have LOST IT and all control over her 4-letter vocabulary would have been lost. That’s a long way of saying that I am seriously taking parenting lessons from you right now.

  2. Sometimes you can sympathize with the homeschooling crowd who get to protect their children from all sorts of swear words and different religious beliefs!

    I think you’re handling it all perfectly, and as long as RR doesn’t get a rise from you, she’ll drop the swearing. Pretty soon.

  3. I see this coming in our house and I preemptive mourn the loss of innocence. Clem learned “crush” from a preschool classmate who learned it from an older sister and while it’s a far cry from cursing, it was a surprisingly bracing reminder that her early childhood years are coming to an end.

    I actually like some of the articles I’ve seen about cursing in front of children–I’m all for discussing the power of words and the whole “it’s like those grown-up drinks you’re not allowed to have yet” comparison really resonates with me–but I don’t actually curse that often. Then again, we do listen to an awful lot of Hamilton in our house; I’m sure we’ll move on from slavery and harems and what have you to deal with all the motherf%@&ing and whores soon enough.

    I do hope Corey Silverberg finishes that third book soon, though! Out of curiosity, has RR asked where the sperm you used to make her came from yet? I keep being surprised that Clem hasn’t and I think are kids are somewhat similar when it comes to that sort of thing.

  4. My wife is going to have to handle all of this stuff because I am actually a 12 year old boy, sooooo, these conversations wouldn’t go very well when Mama handles them. I mean, come on! I still chuckle when my sons run around the house screaming, “Oooh! Balls!” Sigh….

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