Fuck. Yeah, I say it. I try not to, especially now with kids; but, sometimes it just comes out. It’s like a sneeze; at times you can feel it coming on and fight it off, hold it in; but at other times, it just sneaks right up on you and is out before you can blink.
Fuck. It is such a powerful four-letter word. When used as an interjection, which is how I always use it, dictionary.com defines it as: “slang. (used to express anger, disgust, peremptory rejection, etc., often followed by a pronoun, as you or it. )” Amazingly, for such a powerfully negative word, it still comes out of my mouth from time to time when something particularly unpleasant happens to me. And lets be frank, when being a parent many unpleasant things happen to you and sometimes you might just accidentally drop the F-Bomb.
So, while it is a decidedly convenient word to express anger and frustration. It is also a word that you really do not want to hear your three-year old son throwing around anytime he wants to express his anger and frustration; cause any three-year old kid probably spends half of their day angry and frustrated. Well, that is what K is doing, or was doing.
When K was right around 2 years old, I had a particularly bad toe stub while carrying some boxes and the F-Bomb flew out of my mouth loud and clear. For three days, K repeated the word, and mostly in the right context too. It was pretty cute and funny. He would walk around, pretend to stub his toe, and then swear away. My wife and I did our best to ignore it and hide our laughter at how cute it was and after about three days, he no longer used the word.
K is now 3 ½ years old and he has rediscovered the F-Bomb. He also has a much better memory than he did 18 months ago; so much for him forgetting it. For about two to three weeks K was using the word very liberally. For any slight, or infraction into his space, for any moment of frustration or even a hint of anger, he would throw out the F-Bomb loud and clear. At first, we tried to ignore it, like he was 2 again, but that did nothing. So then we would “yell” at him and put him in time out. Well, this must have all been corresponding with one of those lovely periods of a young child’s life when they test and test and test their boundaries. I swear K wanted to get into trouble. We began to notice him using the word and looking for our reaction. Realizing that by trying to punish him for using the F-Bomb we were still reinforcing his utilization of it; so, we tried to go back to ignoring it…well, not exactly ignoring it, but we would pretend we didn’t understand him. We asked him, “What language are you speaking? Did he mean fox? Sorry can you repeat yourself we don’t understand.” Well, that confused him a bit, but he was still using the word.
Finally, my brilliant wife came up with the plan of introducing a new phrase that was much worse than the F-Bomb. So, we set it up where I would pretend to get mad and angry about something and start swearing my head off using the phrase “Oh Boy”. When we first did this, my wife yelled at me to watch my language and gave me a time out. She would then use it and I would reprimand her for using it. Or we would just drop the phrase from time to time when showing mock anger and frustration. And surprisingly, after a few days, K started to use “Oh Boy” more than “fuck”.
Success!!! Or was it? Cause now we are caught in the dilemma of needing to maintain the farce by “yelling” at K when he says “Oh Boy” and threatening to put him in time out for using such inappropriate language. And now when we say “Oh Boy” out of a genuine need to say “Oh Boy” we need to reprimand each other or K does.
It is all so confusing. We might have (temporarily) eliminated “fuck”, but we still have to display disapproval at K for using a phrase that we chose to introduce so that he would use that instead of the F-Bomb. And then things got a little more complicated when we downloaded a PBS episode of “Arthur” and Arthur’s best bud Buster drops the “Oh Boy”-Bomb a few times in one episode. So now we need to explain that Arthur and Buster sometimes use bad words that should not be used.
So, have we been successful at defeating the F-Bomb, or have we simply created a new bad word for K to embrace and challenge us with? Well, it has now been over a week since we last heard K drop the F-Bomb. “Oh Boy” is coming out quite a bit more, but he is still being a bit more discreet about it, trying to slip it in and see if he will get in trouble. And at the end of the day, while we might need to feign deep disapproval of “Oh Boy” at least he is not at school or out in a public venue throwing around the F-Bomb. Cause there really is not anything as startling as having a three-year old kid come up to you n a huff, throw down his winter hat and yell “Fuck!!”