"For fuck’s sake"

June 29, 2006 at 10:03 am | Posted in family, nonsense | 4 Comments

Kids are unbelievable. What gets to me, what really makes me laugh, is not that they are brilliant mimics. This is undoubtedly hilarious, especially when you try to get your daughter to say “Snuffalupagus” or “transubstantiation”, but what’s really incredible is that they know what context to use words in.

For example, I’ve shown Erin pics of a toy plane, and explained that it flies, but it’s incredible that she can process the information on the page and actually cross-reference it, so the next time we’re outside and she sees a plane, she’ll make the links in her amazing little brain, and say “Plane flying high in the sky!”….the first few times she did things like this, I was left almost speechless by her ability to apply theory to practice.

Of course, she’s made a few mistakes; I’m not sure if she’s fully familiar with the phenomenon of depth perception just yet. This means every now and then she’ll see a bird far off in the distance and think it’s a fly just outside the window…but she’s learning.

I’m trying to document as much as I can of the little things she does to teach herself, because I know how easy it is to forget them once she stops doing them. Things like saying “I’m a big ista!” when we tell her that there’s a new baby coming…she’s already able to say “sister” properly, and soon we’ll have forgotten completely that she used to pronounce it “ista”. I don’t know why, but I think it’s important that we keep some of those memories.

Anyway, I digress. The point I was making was that kids can not only copy what you say, but they also know the right context to use these words…as Linzi and I have found out recently.

I should probably point out that I’m Irish; I swear a lot. This is something I’ve worked hard to cut out because of Erin, but there are certain situations when you slip up. For me it’s in the car. I’m driving along, Erin reading her “God Made Me” or “Elmer’s Friends” book in the back, and some asshole cuts me off…before I know it, I’ve tutted and said “for fuck’s sake!” as I slam on my brakes. Erin says nothing, but don’t think she hasn’t heard me. She’s just biding her time.

Later that day, Mummy is trying to put on one of Erin’s shoes – it’s come off when she was out playing in the garden. Instead of sitting Erin down to do this, Mummy tries to put the shoe on while she’s standing up. Erin’s trying hard to keep her balance while standing on one leg, but Mummy is just taking too long to put the shoe on…

“For fuck’s sake.”

Clear as a bell.

Mummy turns away, covering her mouth to hide her laughter, and ignores the comment. I distract Erin with her books.

It doesn’t go away though. Last night, she dropped a Sticklebrick and it bounced away under the sofa.

“For fuck’s sake.”

We ignore it again. The traditional parental advice is, don’t make a big deal of it, and the child will have forgotten about it in no time at all. However, it’s becoming obvious to us that Erin is not taking the parrot approach of repeatedly saying a swear word over and over; this is a far more calculated and intelligent approach to the use of swearing.

It just won’t do though. What kind of example will people think we set her if we take her to the park and she says “for fuck’s sake” when she drops her ball?

We’ve decided to go against the traditional “say nothing and they’ll forget about it” approach. Next time she says it, we’re both going to be stern and tell her it’s naughty. I know she’ll get upset – she’s such a sensitive little angel – but it might be the only way to stop her.

That and, of course, biting our tongues while we’re in the car.



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  1. I remember becoming concious of my own swearing around the age of 9. I didn’t swear much but one of my friends only used the word ‘flip’ because he family were stricter than mine. When I swore at that age, mum would simply say “You’re just showing off your lack of vocabulary. There must be other words you can use.”

    So now when I swear, it’s a carefully considered choice of words. Usually after having dismissed a whole slew of less satisfying exclamations.

    Good luck with your kid!

  2. Thanks man, good luck with the photography!

  3. By “don’t make a big deal of it”, I don’t think they mean not to tell her its wrong, just to do it in a calm way and not get overly upset about it. How is she to know that something is not allowed if you never tell her it’s not allowed?

  4. Hey Kav, I enjoyed your entry about your daughters keen ability to select the most appropriate phase for the situation. I have to watch myself in the car too… I got cut off and blurted out an very guttural “Honest to God!”. Just like your situation, silence from the back, until the other day at the Doctors office. Out comes the “Honest to God!” phrase after every word the Doctor said. Uncomfortable at the time, but quite funny now.

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