We spent several terrific days last week on a family vacation. On the
excruciating rather long drive back to Our Town, we kept The Kidling entertained in a variety of ways. Her favorite, of course, is watching a movie on the world’s tiniest portable DVD player. When she is all movie-ed out, we move on to looking at books and coloring. The Kidling doesn’t nap in the car, so this trifecta of diversion tactics typically works wonders. Alas, when she is nonfunctioning on four days of sleep deprivation and fun, The Mama and The Dada can only expect so much.
The vast majority of the
endless journey car ride was uneventful. When Alice was coloring around hour three and dropped the lid to one of her glittery Hello Kitty pens, her language became… well… colorful.
Alice: Damn it!
The Mama: (gasps, shocked) What did you say? Alice, did you say “damn it?” Sweetie, that isn’t something we say.* Those are not nice words. It is okay to be frustrated. When you get upset, you can say ‘fiddlesticks.’ Or ‘shucks,’ or ‘bummer,’ or ‘darn!’
Alice: I’m sorry, Mom. I didn’t know ‘damn it’ isn’t a nice thing to say.
(60 second pass)
Alice: Damn it— Sorry Mom!
The Mama: I forgive you, Alice. I just want you to think about the words you choose. Sometimes Mom and Dad say “Damn it.” Adults get to choose their words and they have to deal with the consequences of their choices. When you are a kid, though, you are still learning which words might be upsetting to some people. Until you are grown-up, I don’t want you to say that. Do you understand?
Alice: Yes, Mom. I’m sorry. (long pause) I am sorry I said ‘Damn it.’ I didn’t know I’m not supposed to say ‘Damn it.’
The Mama: (heroically keeps straight face. Let’s this one pass)
Damn it, this parenting shit is hard!
* Lie, lie, lie, lie, lie, lie, lie. I do, in fact, say damn. Also: shit, hell, and fuck. Can you spell hypocrite? I can. “T-h-e M-a-m-a.”