Regular Life

Regular Life

In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on. – Robert Frost

Near the Potty Mouth

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Surprised Benjamin

(click to enlarge)


I sit at our home PC typing a blog post or some such nonsense. On one of her nights to put Benjamin to bed, Shannon walks into the guest bathroom to assess his teeth brushing progress. I hear them talking to each other, but can’t make out the words.

Until Shannon gasps and says, “Benjamin!”

She then dashes across the hall into the guest/computer room and covers her mouth to stifle laughter.

“Did you hear him?” she says through her hand.

“No, what did he say?”

Shannon puts on her best Benjamin voice. “‘I’m sorry, mommy, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to say f*ck.'”

“Why did he say f*ck?”

“I have no idea. I didn’t even hear him say it,” she says.

“Well, he accidentally said it at dinner over the weekend. He was saying words that make the ‘uck’ sound, and that one just kind of came out. He kind of looked at us after he said it. I just told him to be careful,” I say.

We both work to compose ourselves so Benjamin doesn’t hear us laughing.

He completes his swish and spit ritual, sets his plastic cup down hard on the bathroom counter, and then intones, “Sometimes, big kids say bad words.”

As has been discussed here before, banning curse words from a child’s vocabulary is akin to impossible. With their ubiquity in all forms of media and the surprisingly unfettered salty talk of some mothers and fathers, the best parents can hope is that the child learns when it is entirely inappropriate to utter them. For the record, to our knowledge neither of us has said that particular word with Ben present.

For another (and more brief) account of a child’s use of a curse word, see our own Simian Farmer’s recent post, which inspired me to write about this (that’s Simon, by the way).

10 Responses to Near the Potty Mouth

  1. If I had a quarter….after three kids, I have heard it all! Most of it started coming when they rode the bus to school! Nice, huh?

  2. After we carefully craft a decent and moral (hopefully) home life it slowly gets chipped away by the public school system!

  3. I’ve probably heard my daughter say that word a few times in her life, but my son throws it around like a sailor, even though we tell him not to…. it’s just something they’re going to do, or not.. ~frown~

  4. *raises hand, nods, bows acknowledgment*

    We still get a kick out of our youngest, who likes to distinguish the different vehicles he sees on the road when we’re out for a drive.



    “Oh! Big Fire F-ck!”

    It’s unintentional, but Amy and I crack up whenever he says it. And it’s already starting to wear off as his enunciation gets better.

    I’m of the mind, too, that there’s a time and a place to teach your kids the appropriateness of cursing. I think I’ve posted about it before, but I’m too lazy to use my own blog’s search feature right now. But there was this time when my brother and I were much younger, and we were fishing with our dad on a remote, northern Alberta lake and he said to us, “You know what they say about times like this in Alberta, boys? Fuckin’ A!”

    But when your son is not quite five years old, um, it’s probably not yet the time.

  5. I’m still working on growing vocabulary, but I look forward to the time when I can start trying to fight the tide. While I don’t think Norah has ever heard me say that particualr word, I can’t promise since it IS one of my favorite words. Both my wife and I have had to curb our natural inclination toward non-child-appropriate language of late.

  6. Anna – Imagine the things I heard on a bus hauling kids age 5 all the way up to high school senior. And saw, of course.

    Hey, that’s why I’m so warped!

    Dave – I still cringe a bit inside when I hear anybody say it in regular conversation. In a serious tone. If somebody’s joking around just playing a role or something, I don’t sweat it much.

    Simon – Oh yes, the old fire f*ck. We had it in our lives for a while, too. But, like the spacebat (placemat) it died.

    Moksha – Oh, she will get there! I’m sure you can’t wait.

  7. When my daughter was 3 I delivered a paper route on Sunday’s. This meant dragging her out of bed very early to go with me. One morning I heard her muttering from the backseat.

    Me: What did you say?
    Her: S**t
    Me: That’s not a nice word. I don’t want you to say it.
    Her: S**t
    Me: I asked you not to say that.
    Her: S**t
    Me: If you say that again I’m going to wash your mouth out with soap.
    Heavy silence
    Her: S**t, S**t, S**t, S**t, S**t!

    She didn’t like the taste of soap. ;D

  8. Love the new banner, babe!

  9. Just make sure that he does not use that word at school. I can imagine “show and tell” would get rather interesting. Talk about an education! Has he been listening to George Carlin lately? I had never heard that word until I moved to Conway. I am surprised that no one at my school in Little Rock ever used such language. I guess we had a very sheltered group in Little Rock back then.

    Of course, it was also in Conway that other words like the “s” word, the “five letter word that begins with p and ends with y” word, and the “d” word that is often used as a nickname for guys named Richard were first revealed to me when I moved to Conway years ago.

    This brings up and interesting tale of what happening one day in typing class. I was learning how to type. I had to type the sentence in a typing drill:

    The hunter shot the deer.

    Somehow, my right hand shifted over one set of keys. After typing, I turned and looked at my work in horror, I had typed six lines of:

    The hunter sh*t the deer.

    By the way, I did not type the asterisk if you know what I mean. There is another vowel close to the “O” key. I did not hit the “U” to spell “shut.”

    I told Ann (my fiancee) that it would have been funny to type:

    We were told to duck and cover.

    The “D” and “F” keys are side by side. Hmmm.

    Back to the Geroge Carlin reference, he has this bit on one of his standup acts about the “seven words” you cannot say on radio and television. In the act, he tells what they are. The edit version bleeps most of it. I made a similar reference in a Business Law class about freedom of speech. The FCC controls what can be said when it comes to offensive speech on over-the-air TV and radio–pay channels do not count. If you say one of the seven words, your radio or TV station can get fined. I said to them, “I know what some of you are thinking. Will Mr. Price tell us what those words are?” I simply told the students that I suspect that they have a good idea what cannot be said. If they really wanted to know, I am sure the FCC has the list somewhere.

  10. Mark, Simon: Wonderful. I remember when my oldest was learning to talk, and I was helping her get dressed:

    Me: This is a shirt. Can you say “shirt”?

    Her: Sheeeeeeeeeeiiiit.


    John: you can’t fight the freakin’ FCC.

    In case anyone’s still reading this, I found the following to be an interesting, thoughtful read on the subject:


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