Sunday, November 17, 2013

First [Bad] Words

Sophie and I were putting together a truly phenomenal feat of engineering, the Lego Friends Dolphin Cruiser, when her hand slipped as she was pushing down hard on a piece.  She scraped her hand as the piece dropped to the floor.

“Dammit,” Sophie said.

Let me add, that it was said with the cool confidence of someone who has uttered these words a thousand times.  There was no sidelong glance my way, to see how I would react. 

Thus, it was immediately clear to me that she thought it was fine to say Dammit.  That this is something someone would naturally say when sustaining a lego injury.  It was also clear that this was me.  All me.  The intonation.  The word choice.  I, of course, say dammit. 

I think of it as the softer side of “fuck.” 

So, now I was faced with a choice.  Do I bring the profane nature of the word to her attention, risking making a big deal of it and thus reinforcing future use of the word.  Or do I ignore it, and, perhaps in doing so, am complicit in allowing such behavior, increasing the likelihood that it will occur again, however innocently. 

Always one to make a stink when there is an opportunity to do so, I went with option A.

“Sophie!”  I exclaimed.  “That’s a bad word.  It’s like stupid.  I realize that I may say it from time to time, but that doesn’t make it right.  I will try not to say it, and I don’t want you to say it again either, okay?”

“Okay, I’ll try my very best” she said, not taking her eyes off her careful assembly of a tiny brick oven.  Not convincing. 

Just then, Kevin walked in.  His eyes said, “Are you kidding me?” He had heard everything.  My eyes wearily replied, “Yeah, I know.” 

I imagined the deluge of bad language to follow.  All the tiny words that slip in moments of frustration and pain.

Just days away from her 6th birthday, she said her very first swear.  There’s another one for the baby books.   One that marks the beginning of a decent?  Up until this point, all the milestones have been steps in the right direction:  walking, talking, toilet training….  And now the first bad word…what other naughtiness is destined to follow? 

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