I’m driving to the zoo with my wife riding shotgun and my toddler in the back seat. Sitting behind a lady in a Jeep at a red light. The light turns green and all the other lanes continue through the intersection. The Lady in the Jeep however, is distracted by her cell phone and doesn’t realize the light has changed. After the obligatory 5 seconds, I give her a quick beep of my horn to get her going. The very next light we have the same scenario play out, except this time I say to my wife “What’s the deal with this lady?… I think she’s texting or something…” then it happens. Quietly from the back seat in a very serious yet high pitched tone I hear “Crazy f%^king lady…” Not in an angry way, but more of a ‘I’m-so-sick-of-these-people’ kind of way. Well my jaw dropped. I looked at Mrs. DUF and she looked at me. Calmly I asked my son to repeat himself. Much to my dismay, he repeated exactly what we both thought we had heard. I quickly told him in a very stern voice he is not to use those kinds of words again. I was livid. Mainly because neither my wife nor I talk like that. What bothered me wasn’t that he said the word, but that he used it correctly in a sentence. He wasn’t repeating or mimicking anyone. It was clear he knew how to use that word and picked a situation where it aptly applied.
Suddenly I found myself trying to explain to my wife that he didn’t get it from me. Or did he? I mean is it possible I let that word slip in front of him once or twice? It’s possible, but enough to actually understand it? This was really the first time my wife and I had to deal with this type of situation. It’s new territory for us. On one hand we could punish him for it, but is that really fair? Will that make it appear ‘Taboo’, resulting in him wanting to use it more. One thing for sure, was neither of us could laugh. If there is one thing we have learned in our 37 months of parenting, is that when you laugh at something your child does, expect him to do it over and over again until you’re all sick of it. Our only option was to explain to him that it is a naughty word and never to be used again. That being said, we have now drawn our line in the sand. It is now a punishable offence in our house. If mom or dad use it (or any bad word for that matter), then they will get some form of a “time-out” as well. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, right?
The interesting thing, is that looking back on the whole situation, I was sort of proud of him in a way. You see when my son was 14-15 months old, he was getting repeated ear infections. After many visits with our family doctor, we finally saw a specialist. He was fantastic, he determined that our sons ears weren’t draining liquid properly and constantly getting infected. This meant everything my son heard, sounded like he was under water. ‘Glue ear’, I believe, was the term he called it. The best remedy was to surgically implant a metal disc (tubes) in his ears to allow for proper drainage. Since this was all occurring at a very important developmental stage in his life, it was actually delaying his speech. He wasn’t pronouncing his words properly because he wasn’t hearing them properly.
We were referred to a speech therapist, but once we got that call, we were told there was a 1 year wait list. Well, we assumed the surgery would rectify the problem and he would essentially catch-up in the speech department and we opted not to sit on the waiting list. Well he’s 37 months now and my wife and I often find ourselves ‘translating’ for him when he tells stories to others. We should have stayed on the list.
Fast forward back to the car, and his statement “Crazy f&^king lady” was clear, concise and very well articulated. There was no mistaking what he was saying. Also, the appropriate use of the statement for the situation was uncanny. I find myself not only trying to teach my son right from wrong in the vocabulary department, but also learning it myself. I’m learning that he is ALWAYS listening. Gone are the days when we could discuss everything from Christmas presents to the tooth fairy (SPOILER ALERT) being make believe in front of him.
Parenting has now evolved. It’s no longer tough because of the sleepless nights and diaper changes. Now the real test begins. As I parent I am now being looked up to as an example. Now I have to ‘practise what I preach”. Walk the straight and narrow. Lead by example. You get it. Now the real fun begins and as mom and dad our mettle will be tested. Up until now I thought Potty training was tough, little did I know that’s just a drop in the bucket (or plop in the bucket)… Looks like he’s going to teach me just as much as I’m teaching him.
Until the next post,
Keep your head up and your nuts covered…