The other day, my four yr old daughter, in her true fashion, said this to me while I was driving, “Momma, can I say shit?”. Now she knows damn well she cannot say shit but she is smart enough to know if she forms it in a question, she may just get away with saying this fantastically naughty word.
This isn’t the first time she has tried this tactic because my sassy four year old loves to cuss. A habit she unfortunately inherited from her Momma. I’m better than I used to be but the occasional expletive always slips out when my “don’t miss a beat” daughter is around or I naively think she is not listening. I may be sending her to college or paying for her future therapy with a swear jar.
In that moment in the truck, during the middle of the day, I recognized the opportunity to teach my daughter a lesson in the power of words. In my true fashion, I instructed her to shout out every cuss word she knew. Ass, shit, hell, dammit–if she knew it I let her say it, and more than once. When she was all done and composed her laughter and disbelief at what just happened, I asked her how she felt. She replied, “Good!”. I believed her too because I felt good listening to her laugh like that. I told her that for the most part, that’s why adults say those words. However, they are considered “naughty” words, especially for kids, and she should try not to say them.
Then I asked her to say the words stupid, ugly, fat, dumb, hate and maybe a few more I’m forgetting. She said them at least twice each. I asked her how she felt. Her response was “Not good”. Exactly. I told her that those words are the real bad words because they hurt people. She is a very sensitive child by nature and like me, she connects way more with building people up then tearing them down.
I could see her big, brown eyes in the rearview mirror, digesting what I said to her. She asked me if she was allowed to say those words. I told her they are not cuss words but they are very hurtful so, no she couldn’t and shouldn’t say them. Part of me wanted to dig deeper and open up a previous conversation about bullying, but I didn’t. I knew the seed was planted.
From this, I took two things:
1. I really hope my sassy little girl doesn’t decide to teach her friends the difference between cuss words and hurtful words. If this happens, I am apologizing to parents in advance. It was taught out of love, I promise.
2. I just hope that other parents, in their own way, teach this lesson. Speaking from experience, words don’t leave bruises on your skin but instead scars on your heart and spirit. So please, pay less attentions to the f bombs and more to what you are saying when you think your kids aren’t listening.
Do you have remember a time when your child threw out a cuss word or two? Did you discipline him/her, laugh or ignore it? Anyone else feel that Hate is a much uglier word than Shit??