I am recording this conversation for posterity, because I don’t want to forget that this happened. (A little background– I grew up in a home where “gosh”, “darn” and “heck” were considered curse words. Swearing is just not in my DNA. I know other people have different feelings about it and I’m not overly scandalized by it, but it just isn’t something I feel compelled to do and I’m raising my kids in a similar fashion.)
To set the scene:
Danny had decided to make dinner by himself for the first time. He made hardboiled eggs, toast, carrots and applesauce. Brian went to get a special meal for the two of us. . . because sometimes adults don’t want to eat hardboiled eggs and applesauce. That left me alone with six kids (some of them aren’t pictured above because they weren’t at the table yet and also because moms of six kids know what kind of drama can happen when you stop for two seconds to try and take a picture with everyone present). The kids are Josh (8), Danny (6), Bethany (5), Joel (3), Carrie (18 months), Teddy (6 months). And this is what happened:
Josh: Mom, some jerk spray painted bad words inside that sewer drain we walked through.
Me (absentmindedly, while feeding carrots to the baby): Oh yeah?
Josh: Yeah. You know, like “suck” and “f***”.
Me:. . . (jaw dropped. . . starring at him like a crazy person. . . kids are all happily eating hard boiled eggs having no idea that an eight year-old just casually said the worst word in the English language like he was discussing the latest happenings in the Pokemon universe). . . Ummmmmm. . . You know, Josh. . . I just never thought I’d hear you say that word. . . and you just now did. Right in front of all the babies that I hoped would never hear that word. But. Here we are. . .Okay. . .
Josh: F***? Why is that word so bad?
Me: Ummm. . . every bad word means something and it’s not always the meaning that makes it bad, but how people use it.
Josh: So what does THAT word mean?
Me: Weeeeeelllll, you know we’ve talked about how a man and a woman who are married to each other can do something special that could make a baby? You know that thing is called sex? The F word is a word for sex.
Bethany: An F word for sex? (slow phonological sounding out) F-f-f-f-f-ex? Fex? Mom? Is that the bad word?
Me: Oh boy. Never mind about that.
Josh: But why would somebody say that as a bad word?
Me: It’s just an angry way to say that. We shouldn’t speak about something God created to be beautiful with an angry word like that. Especially not at somebody we’re mad at. That isn’t something to yell or threaten. Sex is a private thing.
Josh: So when CAN you say that word? What’s the appropriate use of it?
Me: Wow. . . well. . . let’s just not say it right now. Ever. For you, there is never an appropriate time to say it.
Josh: And Mom, what kind of jerk writes “F*** the world?” How would you even DO that? (Josh is loving the fact that he can say “jerk” in this context and I’m not going to get mad at him.)
Me: Oh. Okay. Well, you can’t actually DO that. It’s probably just the angriest thing he knew how to write. I’m guessing he is a very upset person and probably not a mature adult. It’s sad that he felt like writing that, BUT FOR THE LOVE, WOULD YOU PLEASE STOP SAYING THAT WORD IN FRONT OF THE BABIES?
Josh: Oh, sure Mom.
(Everyone goes back to eating eggs and pretending this never happened. . . Except for Mom. Who is totally scarred.)
I’m glad that conversation is over. I think I nailed it. . . or not. And remind me never to let Brian go missing for a meal again.
And because it is the cutest thing ever (and I need some kind of mental and emotional palate cleanser), here’s Danny presenting the meal he made: