Monday, November 2, 2009

Potty mouth

River's first swear word came a few weeks ago, when he repeated "shit"
after hearing dad say it. Since then, I've twice caught him muttering
fuck under his breath. The first time we had been out playing in the
leaves, having a nice time. There was definitely no swearing
involved. As we came in, he started to say, fuck, fuck, fuck. At
first I thought I was mishearing him, but it sure sounded like fuck to
me. It happened again tonight.

As excited as I am about the rapid language developed he has shown in
the past two months, this disturbs me. He's not saying it in an angry
manner. Rather, it's a more thoughtful analysis of the sounds. But
still, what does this say about us as parents to have this be among
his first 100 words or so? As professional parents with graduate
school educations, I find it pretty embarrassing.

It's hard not to think that it came from Mark, either his own speech
or the TV shows or movies he watches while caring for River. When
I've asked Mark before to be careful, he has told me that River
doesn't understand what he is saying. I do think he believes that,
because he also tends to read simpler books to River than I do,
thinking he doesn't understand the more complicated ones. I believe
River's comprehension is at a much higher level and that even when he
can't demonstrate his comprehension, he is a sponge, soaking
everything in.

I don't have a perfectly clean mouth myself, and I'm sure I've sworn
in frustration before in his presence, especially while driving. But
I don't think it's been often enough, or loud enough, for him to pick
it up. Nor do I watch programs that contain swearing in front of him.

When I point it out to Mark, and say look what's happened to our
child, he says I should not react. When I started googling toddler
and swearing, I saw similar advice. It sounds like the best thing to do is to ignore it and hope it goes away. But when I'm pointing it out, what I'm really saying is - look at how we influence him. Look at what can happen if we are not
careful. Please be serious about setting a good example.

River is such an easy kid and so many of his characteristics can make
us feel like we are doing a great job. When he sleeps through the
night, naps, eats just about everything without problem, has never puked, had diarrhea, nor an ear infection, does most his poos in the potty and is generally friendly, cooperative and good-natured, it's tempting to think we are doing things right. When really, he was just born with a character that makes our job easy.
But this feels like a blow. A knock in the head that this time, we've
done something wrong.

No comments: