I was sitting with my Godson, IV, a week or so ago and my phone kept crapping out and it was making me stabby since I needed to get ahold of my son. So instead of chucking it across the room, I yelled at it, “STUPID PHONE!”
IV looked at me like I’d just socked him in the face. “You said a bad word.”
Had I? I’m usually careful in front of little ones, especially the ones who don’t belong to me. What did I say? Usually I’m a pretty quick thinker, but his big, blue eyes were like lasers of shame, slicing into my soul. WHAT DID I SAY? And before I could ask, he revealed my crime to everyone in earshot:
“AUNT NICOLE SAID THE ‘S’ WORD!”
No I didn’t! I didn’t say the ‘S’ word! Did I? I really hoped I didn’t!
NO! I was sure I did NOT swear in front of IV. I would never carelessly use profanity around him, especially since it was just the two of us chillaxing on the sofa playing Math Bingo on his iPad and talking about dinosaurs. I am also acutely aware of how sensitive he is and how important the rules have always been to him. He’s a rule guy, so around him, I'm a rule girl.
I looked up at IV’s mom, and she shrugged her shoulders, trying to stifle a laugh. She’d forgiven me for corrupting her organic everything, vaccine-free toddler daughter with Portillo’s cheese fries years ago, but I still felt guilty about it. Ugh, now I was swearing in front of her innocent kindergarten son. She wasn’t mad, but I was starting to feel sick with upset over what I had just done. What was wrong with me?
“You should NOT say ‘stupid’,” he sternly reprimanded me, “because it is a VERY bad word and it hurts people's feelings.”
And the relief was instant. I had not sunk to the depths of debauchery by swearing casually in front of a child. Or did I?
My children are years out from learning kindergarten rules and basic socialization skills. I had forgotten just how important it truly is for little people to be taught how powerful their words can be. So the answer to the question as to whether or not I said a bad word around IV would be a resounding YES!
Stupid IS a bad word. Not as bad as some, but that's like saying that an episode of "Hoarders," is a little disturbing. A five year old thinks in black and white and bad is bad, PERIOD. And I owed him not only an apology, but also praise for having the courage to stand up for what he felt was right. I also took the opportunity to explain myself to him, so that he might understand why I used the word. My explanation went sort of like this:
"IV, I felt angry that my phone kept dying and since I am so far away from home and not able to check on Zach (my son), I used a bad word to express my frustration. Sometimes I call objects stupid and I know it’s a bad word, but I also know I can’t hurt the phone’s feelings. Objects don’t have feelings. I won’t say the word again, ok?"
Of course IV forgave me and we went on with our evening together, enjoying each other’s company and me making sure to be on my best behavior. I needed to earn back his respect. After all, if adults can’t follow the rules, how can they expect kids to do so? I love IV so much. He’s a kindred spirit and a very important person in my life, but my explanation was actually a big, fat, juicy FAIL!
The very next day, IV quoted me, saying that using the ‘S’ word isn’t so bad as long as you are not saying it to a person. Godparent and role model? Not so much. More like Devil’s advocate and bad influence. Am I being a bit hard on myself? Maybe, but I think I need to stick to screwing up my own kids and remember that when it comes to little people, saying less is really more.
So you know what I learned from this experience? Two things. First, I’m going to stick to swearing at babies, like in this YouTube video.
Paul Crick KILLS IT!
Last thing? Well, in the future I’m just going to drop the f-bomb, because I’m pretty sure the kindergarten curriculum doesn’t include curse words so it might go unnoticed completely. AND a deposit in the swear jar or a time out would be easier on my heart than the carrying the already heavy burden of turning my best friend's children into a fast food addicts and inanimate object abusers.
Read more from Nicole at chicagonow.com/moms-who-drink-and-swear
I write both from the heart and my experience as a mental health professional and a parent of two nutjob kids who provide me with more material for this nonsense than I could ever use.