My cuckoo beans. Yup, my kids. I had to come up with something I could call them without feeling bad about it. Read: something I knew meant more than it sounded and in my own mind, could be derogatory if I was feeling a little annoyed yet silly sounding to everyone else. In listening to other parents talking with their kids, I wonder what is truly okay to say in front of your kids. Instead of actually saying, “stop being an asshole” or “what the hell were you thinking?”, I often find myself thinking outside the box to come up with something appropriate to say to my kids.
My husband was worried when our eldest was able to speak and respond to what we said. “You need to watch your language, hon,” he’d say to me. I would laugh, but he’d give me his attempt at an evil eye which I knew he meant business. Yes, I had a tendency to have a trucker mouth. When I’d have a rough day at work, I’d explain it to my husband, using several expletives along the way. Although he was never shocked by the wording I chose, often completely understanding where I came from with how upset I was or how stupid the person I was talking about had been, he got very concerned when we had kids. How would I be able to control my mouth in front of the kids? In turn, I started to wonder, what exactly was okay to say in front of the kids? Not just swears, but other words that I wouldn’t want my kids to say.
“Stop being weird, okay?” I heard a mom say on a playdate. It gave me pause. I know that “weird” isn’t technically a bad word, but I thought to myself: do I want my kids to use it? Do we truly understand weird? And is it that bad to be weird? I think I’ve said it a couple of times but tried to stop short of doing so. “Oh, my god!” my eldest exclaimed one day, and my husband looked at me with his “evil eye”. Was that bad? Apparently, it wasn’t good. He wanted them to say goodness or gosh, but not God. I guess I could see it, but how bad is it? Was it really so bad when I had to stop quick in the car and my eldest shouts, “Oh my God! Seriously, buddy?!?” Okay, maybe the usage was appropriate but coming out of a 4 year old’s mouth, probably not so much.
I rarely swear anymore. Although I am pretty good about saving it for the appropriate times (after the kids go to bed, when they are in another room and I whisper “fuck it” to emphasize how I really feel), I sometimes slip in conversation. I get the evil eye again from my husband, and then I remind him how far I have come. But even some of the other words that I thought weren’t that bad (or phrases like, “I need some space”) that I use often to try and curb my own frustrations have seemed to come back and bite me in the tush (another word I chose to use instead of butt, bum, etc). I want my kids to be able to express themselves appropriately, but I never seem to know what the right words are. And I have probably messed up quite a few times along the way. (“Really, buddy?” my eldest just said to my youngest, attitude and all.)
There are so many worse things my kids could say this early in their lives, and I know they are probably coming later on in life. Things they will learn from friends, at school, wherever. I dread the day my kids will say they “hate” me or think something is “stupid”. As it is, my eldest started saying they are “boring” (they mean “bored”) and even though they only remotely know what it means, I still sigh when I hear it. But for now, I will try my best to teach my little cuckoo beans not to shake their tushies in peoples faces and be weird in front of their friends. I mean, seriously, dude? Give me some space and don’t be silly!