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Monday, April 11, 2005

When Bad Words Happen to Good Kids (#1)

I am not particularly "dirty" in my speech; nor am I squeaky clean. While I believe that words have power, I also believe that any particular word only has the power that we choose to assign it. Even so, when LG began to imitate our speech, Jif and I became very careful about what words we used. We were never ones to curse at each other in anger or call names, or anything like that. Just the occasional "excited utterance" at the occurrence of a stubbed toe, a broken dish, that sort of thing.

I thought I had completely eliminated any words that I would not want LG to whip out in polite company, but one day when she was about three, I realized I wasn't as "pure" as I liked to think I was. We were in the car, and she was happily coloring in the backseat, in her carseat, as we drove along. Then she says, not too unhappily, "I dropped the green! Well, isn't that a dammit?!"

Did I hear what I think I heard? "Isn't that what, baby?"

Very matter-of-fact reply, "A dammit."

"LG, what is 'a dammit'?"

She rolls her huge green eyes. "Mama, you know what a dammit is. You know, if you drop something, or if something doesn't work properly, we call that a 'dammit.' You know that!"

Yes, I do. I didn't go into a "bad words" talk; I just resolved to say something else when I dropped something or when something didn't work properly. And I did so, and she copied whatever my new expression was, as well, and the "dammit" disappeared from her vocabulary. But even now, if she's not around, you might hear me say, "Well, isn't that a dammit!" Because that's just too cute not to say.

Tune in another time for more good kids/bad words stories. I've got a few. And tell me some of yours!

25 heads are better than one . . .

Anonymous LadyBug said...

That is just too cute. I may have to adopt that expression myself. Although, it wouldn't make any sense to anyone else, I suppose.

I've recently had to ask Miss Attitude to please not say "Oh, shoot" anymore, because, even though that expression is very benign, when she says it, it has been sounding more and more like, "Oh, shit." And well, we can't have THAT.

Blogger Susie said...

Fuck, no. You can't have that. I HAD TO SAY THAT! WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?! I've been in blogworld too long. With LG, I had to tell her to stop saying "gosh," or "Oh my gosh," because it keeps sounding like "God," and that bugs me too much.

Blogger Greenthumb said...

I like "muck and fuddle" as in,
'I'm in a muck and fuddle', or 'isn't that a real muck and fuddle?'

I used to say 'Holy Cow!' a lot as a missionary, which is also the source of 'Holy Crap!'

Blogger Circus Kelli said...

I'm right there with you ladies...

Unfortunately, "shit" and "dammit" are two of my favorite "excited utterance" expressions. I usually reserve "fuck" for the blog world, or if I'm VERY VERY VERY upset and the kids are not around.

When Punkin was about 2-1/2, she was rummaging in her dresser while I stood nearby. Suddenly, I hear "Dammit! I can't find my blanket!" Oops.

Now that Sweet Pea is talking, we hear "Oh my GOCK!" Which is supposed to be "Oh my GOSH!", but disturbs me a bit, as well.

We also don't say "Shut up" or "Stupid" in our house.

Blogger Circus Kelli said...

Oops... sorry Greenie, I didn't mean to lump you in with the ladies... there was a lag time between when I typed and when I hit "publish".

Holy Moley is a good one... ;)

Anonymous Julie said...

Our daughter was tricky. She'd proudly tell us, "I know dammit is a bad word that I'm not allowed to say. I never say dammit."

Anonymous kalki said...

What a cute story! I love it. And I've got a few...

A couple days before I started kindergarten, my mom (a teacher) told me that I might hear "bad words" on the bus and that I shouldn't repeat them. Naturally, I wanted to know what these bad words would be. (How else would I know which ones NOT to repeat, right?) So she taught me "shit." My own mother! It backfired, though, because I couldn't quite remember the word and so she says the next few days I kept asking, "Mom, what's that shet word? What's that shet word again?"

Another one: At the dinner table after her first day of kindergarten, one of my friends very politely asked her mother to "pass the goddamn salt." Her parents are both teachers, and her dad just looked at her mom and said, "Welcome to public education."

Blogger Susie said...

These are great, you guys!

greenie, I like those. Reminds me of "great googly moogly," which I heard from some cartoon character...

CK, your favorites are mine, too. "Oh my GOCK," is adorable. We're not allowed to say "shut up" or "stupid" either. I have a good "shut up" story I'll blog about.

julie, that's a very clever girl, you must have to stay on your toes with that one. Reminds me of a friend's son, he's a teen now, but when I met him he was 3 and had just learned the word, "penis," and would NOT stop saying it, singing it, chanting it. Finally his parents had enough and told him he couldn't just say it arbitrarily, there had to be a good reason, he had to be saying something ABOUT his penis to an adult if something needed to be said. I saw him and said, "Hi, Timmy, how are you?" "I'm fine, Miss Susie, but my PENIS is having a bad day." (Well, he did tell me something ABOUT it.)

kalki, those made me laugh. Your mom is cute. I took a gamble on something like that with LG. She came home in kindergarten and wanted to know, "What IS the F-word?" I had resolved to always be honest with her and to let her know we could talk about anything, but I didn't want to answer that question. I got her to tell me the context of the question, just to be sure she was asking what I thought she was asking, and she was. Then I told her that I know what the F-word is, but it is a word that she doesn't need right now, and a word that if she should ever use in kindergarten, even accidentally, would get her in so much trouble that her parents would be called, and her friends' parents wouldn't want them to play with her if she told them that word. And if she didn't know the word, she wouldn't have to worry about that. "Are you SURE you want to know a word like that right now?" She decided she could wait. She hasn't asked again. Whew!

Blogger laurenbove said...

Excellent story susie!

Greenthumb: Are we related? I use as did my mother, muck and fuddle quite often. Just don't say them together 10x fast.

When I was in 1st grade my mother, a writer, told me that there were no such thing as "bad words." She loved words and wanted me to understand that it was the speakers intent that was "bad" not the word itself, a mere innocent in the whole process.

Of course I said: You mean bitch isn't a bad word? She said: no, it means female dog. Damn? No that holds back water...etc. you can imagine the rest.

Fast Fwd: 2 days later my mother gets a call from my teacher who was enraged. Apparently I was teaching the kids dirty words in her opinion. My mother remembered her talk with me and tried to explain...teacher didn't buy it.

Needless to say, I was not the teacher's pet that year.

Blogger Susie said...

laurenbove, I like your mom's style. Sometimes teachers need to lighten up a bit.

Blogger Circus Kelli said...

Greenie -- At home, when I get an email, my computer says "Great Googly Moogly". Sometimes it comes at some pretty appropriate times while watching TV. Although, during Law and Order or Medium, Hubby's computer (which says "I see dead people") is even more appropriate. ;)

Susie -- OH MY GOCK! "My penis is having a bad day." THAT is really funny! How did you not laugh?

Blogger Andrea said...

ALL of these are funny! And I'm a bit sorry that I don't (yet) have any of my own to share. The four-year-old...oh heck, her name is Audrey, I'm going to stop trying not to use my family's names, it's too hard! Anyway. Audrey has not yet picked up on my bad habit words, which really aren't that bad. The worst things I say: Oh, heck. Gosh darn it. Gosh DANG it (more extreme). That SUCKS. CRAP. Oh...poop. That is such BULL CRAP!

Apparently so far I've been good about not using even these in her presence. Don't worry, I'm sure it'll happen soon! And only maybe the first two would I just chuckle over and not say "oooh, those aren't really good words honey."

Blogger Ern said...

I vividly remember my little brother skipping around the house chanting, "jack-ass, jack-ass..." My mom demanded to know where he heard that word, and of course he said, "From Dad and his friend!"

Blogger little sister said...

That is hilarious!

Susie, I stumbled on your blog via Kristine's or Mrs. Pissy (I forget), so I'll link your story to my post about my daughter when she was little . . . I totally like your blog!

Blogger Mamaramma said...

Susie, I love LG more and more with every post about her!

My dad, who only cusses when he stubs a toe, etc. used to always want to say, "GD" basically - but in my presence, he always was mindful to say, "GOD!!!...bless America!"

When I was 7 or 8, I thought I had made up the best word ever. I would use it playfully whenever I wanted to jokingly tell someone they were a dork. At first, I only called my friends at school this word, and we all got a kick out of it. It caught up with me when I called my grandmother it in front of the whole family. "You're a dildo!" isn't as funny to adults as it was to me. My parents made me get out the dictionary and look it up in front of them so I would know the significance of what I said. To this day, I hate dictionaries.

Blogger JessicaRabbit said...

When my brother was 3 he walked over to the front door, looked out and said, God Damn it sure is raining out there. And my mother sat up and said what did you just say young man???? And he turned and looked at her all smiling and proud and said it again. She called my dad and asked my brother to say it to him, he looked at my dad as said, Boy it sure is raining hard daddy. Hahahahahahahahaha.

Blogger Susie said...

CK, who says I didn't laugh? I am envious of you; my computer doesn't talk to me at all. How do you make it say things like that when you get email? BTW, did you see my note to you at dooce.com today? About you being GORGEOUS? Darth Vaida was a little bit much for me there today;)

andrea, Audrey is a beautiful name. I used to say, "Dang," until I got a blog friend named "Dang," and then it didn't seem right to take his name in vain anymore! And from my hillbillian roots, I say, "Daggum," too.

ern, "Where did you hear that?" is often a question that gets one or more parents "busted."

welcome, little sister, thanks for letting me know you were here, and for the link. I'll have to come and find your story about your girl.

mamaramma, I had an uncle who said, "God bless America!" just like your dad; thanks for reminding me of him; he was a good one. "Dildo" is an outstanding, most excellent word for you to have made up. Stupid dictionary!
You can't know how much Maya's cheeky smiles remind me of LG. You are in for so much joy. Every age, I remember thinking, can it be any more fun than THIS? But there's something special about each age, stage:)

Blogger Susie said...

jessicarabbit, your brother sounds like some of mine (I have 5). Slippery little devils.

Blogger Pissy Britches said...

HA! I was just saying to someone how I really don't talk all nastyfied in my everyday life but now that Lil Miss Pissy is starting to talk I really have to watch what I say. We don't just walk around cussing all the time in our house..well..maybe..but anyways..we try to be careful!

Blogger Squirl said...

I have two younger brothers. The one closer to my age is Tardist. I don't know how to make a link to his blog, but I digress.

Anyway, he quite often made life hell for Timmy. They were doing something together and Tardist swore.

Timmy was sure had Tardist on this one. He went running out to our parents and said "Tardist said a work that starts with damn!" Guess which one ended up in trouble.

Timmy did take all of his excess anger out on Bucky, though. I'll leave those stories for Bucky to tell. :-)

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its too funny what kids pick up without parents even knowing. Hunter, my 6 year old, the first bad word he learned was 'ass'. He was about 3. Hunter, Brennen and myself went to a movie. I think it was Shreck. At some point in the movie, it referred to the donkey as 'ass'. Hunter jumped out of his seat, and very loudly proclaimed 'Mommy, he said ASS, ASS is a bad word, we dont say ASS'. People in the theatre actually started laughing at what he had said. He was NOT using his indoor voice.


Blogger Susie said...

Mrs. PB, I liked your story about Lil Miss P. She sounds like a love.

squirl, don't you go gettin' any brainy ideas up in here! I hope Timmy learned not to tattle on Tardist. (What kind of parents name a kid Tardist? ;) )

lawbrat, your story reminds me of when one of my little nephews got really frustrated with the other one, and yelled at him the two worst words he knew at the time: "You BUTT-ASS!" I'm sure the other movie-goers were delighted with the extra entertainment from Hunter.

Blogger Annejelynn said...

my honey officially became an old fart as of last march, turning the big 40 - in honor of his major birthday, we (me, him, his boy/son, his ex- (mommie of the son)and her beau) all got together with a few friends for brunch... when we got there, she (his ex) was also arriving. We had just secured parking and she was directly in front of us on a cross street, still trying to find parking...she turned and saw us and held her hands up in the car and clearly said to us, as a comment re: the unavailable parking, "What the f**k?" The boy-o (6 yrs old) in our backseat ALSO saw this and immediately announced, "She said F***!" We feigned ignorance and quickly changed the subject. Once we met his mommie and her beau on the sidewalk, as she was exclaiming, "HI" and good morning's, he walked right up to her, put his hands on his hips and said in a ultra-accusatory tone, "You said f**k" -that kid doesn't miss a thing

Blogger Susie said...

annjelynn, they don't miss anything. You cannot get away with ANYTHING. You will be called on it, at the most embarrassing time possible.

Blogger Nilbo said...

I have a bit of a loose mouth where swearing is concerned - having worked in radio, though, I learned to control it, and I was very careful around both my daughters. I would NEVER swear around them. I figured they should learn it on the street, the natural way.

All that went out the window one day when I went out to get the paper and my 4 year old (at the time, this was 19 years ago) followed me. We got out on the front step and she looked down into the rose garden.

"God damn, Jesus Christ, cats in the damn garden again," she observed, calmly.

I was equally calm, making no big fuss about it. When my wife got home that night, I said "Do you take our little girl out in the garden to check for cat poop?"

"Ummm ..." she said, "Sometimes ... why? Did she ummm say something?"

Kinda, yeah. And now, years later, when one of the girls stubs her toe and lets loose with a string of creatively-hyphenated words that would make a porn star blush, I am able to say "Ah, your mother taught you well."


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