I have a terrible potty mouth. Just filthy.
I’m an educated, intelligent, professional woman with an extensive lexicon. I’m able to expound prolifically using a plethora of words and phrases. And, sometimes, there is no more appropriate a word to use than a well-placed f-bomb.
My family jokingly took bets as to what my son’s first curse word would be based on my most common obscenities. (As a side note, it was my husband who accidentally taught my son his first curse word.)
I should probably explain that I’m not exactly proud of my dirty mouth. But, I’m not embarrassed by it, either. There are worse things that could come out of my mouth.
And, often, there are worse things said in the presence of my son.
I imagine you asking, “what’s worse than an f-bomb in the presence of a two year old?”
I’m glad you asked. Here are just a few “toddler friendly” examples:
“Boys don’t wear make up.”
“Don’t cry. You’re just being silly.”
“Wouldn’t you rather play with a truck than that doll?”
“You can’t wear pink.”
Here’s the deal. Saying “poop” when I drop something or “fudge” when I suddenly realize I’m late for a meeting I forgot about might offend some people because those kinds of words have been deemed inappropriate. But, no one is going to get hurt. On the other hand, telling my son that he should ignore his feelings or avoid otherwise harmless activities could hurt him.To his core.
My kid loves the color pink. And you’ve just told him that he can’t wear his favorite color. What does he internalize? That something is wrong with his favorite color. That something is wrong him for liking that color.
He’s two and a half. So, I’m sure he’s not able to work through those thoughts and feelings the way that I have. Am I blowing things out of proportion? My example might be a bit extreme. Like I said, these are toddler friendly examples.
But, as he gets older, the words will get bigger. More specific. More pointedly designed to control him. So, when it comes down to the underlying issue, my concerns cannot be overstated.
Unkind words. Belittling words. Shaming words. Bullying words.
Not in my gol dang house and not in front of my flipping kid.
We’ve all heard the phrase “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” And, I think we all know that those words are cow doo doo. Words have the power to change what we think and how we feel about ourselves. With the prevalence of self harm and suicide among teens and young people, we are inundated with stories about how words can not only hurt, but can kill. It isn’t necessary for us to be hateful in what we say. We don’t always have to explicitly tell our children that they are stupid or messed up or worthless or bad. We send that message through thoughtless words. Through indirect messages. Like “boys don’t wear make up.”
Right now, my son is little. On one hand, so many things sail right over his head, beyond his understanding. And, on the other, he knows so much more than we give him credit for. He might not realize that when he is told “crying is silly,” he’s being told that his emotions are inconvenient or annoying and that he shouldn’t express them or even feel them. In fact, he’s probably going to keep on crying regardless. But, the more frequently he hears those messages. The more people who send those messages. The more important the person relaying that message. And those messages will start to stick.
My biggest fear as his parent is not that I’ll drop a “mother trucker” in front of him when we’re already late to daycare and I realize I’m out of gas. My fear is that I’ll say something that sends him the message that something is wrong with him.
I do watch my language around him. I choose my language carefully to explain things to him. I choose encouraging words with the hope that he’ll feel encouraged and that he’ll choose encouraging words, too. My hope is that he’ll know that he is loved unconditionally, and will feel comfortable being himself, rather than feeling he needs to “pass” some senseless rules that the adults in his life have imposed upon him with their bullying words.
My kid says “poop” when he drops a toy.
My kid lovingly feeds and clothes his baby dolls.
My kid is listening when you talk to him.
So, you better watch your darn mouth.