There are the milestones in a child’s life that we all file away in our memories: their first step, their first word, when they finally get a haircut without crying.
As parents, we have a special place in our hearts to remember these moments and relive them as our babies grow up. There is one “first” however that brings chills to all moms and dads, although for an entirely different reason…and you ALL know what it is.
Yup, you guessed it. I’m talking about your child’s first swear.
While making dinner last night, my three-year old son Quinn was sitting at the kitchen island playing. He was talking to himself and adorning everything on the counter with tiny stickers that he had found; even though I was less than thrilled at the cleanup that lay ahead, the fact that he was occupied allowed me to focus on the soup I was making.
Somewhere between the tablespoon of tomato paste and the 15 oz. can of cannellini beans, my ears perked up as I heard him say,
“Oh my G-d***it.”
I whipped my head around so fast that I’m pretty sure he actually felt the breeze and as he looked at me with his wide eyes I asked incredulously, “WHAT did you say?”
“I SAID, Oh, My, G-d***it.”
Now, when a teenager says this, they get punished. When a three-year old does, your reaction is somewhere between pure horror and the stifling of laughter. I mean, it’s SO backwards, hearing such an exclamation come out of a cute, tiny little person.
However, the worst part came next and as the words left my mouth, I knew that I should have just left well enough alone. I made the ultimate parenting error in this situation and having been here before, I should have known better.
I asked him where he had heard that word.
I’ll give the little guy credit; he didn’t say anything…but I knew the answer.
When my oldest son first repeated a swear at age three, he outed Daddy as having been the one to let that word slip and I never let Andy live it down.
(Sidebar: Andy maintains to this day that I “led the witness” and tried to feed him the answer, but I’m sticking to my story.)
With Quinn however, things were different. Just the day before, he had had a potty training accident in the kitchen and as I groaned to go clean it up, I muttered that word under my breath, so only I could hear.
Hey, guess what, June Cleaver, little pitchers have big ears. What is this, amateur hour? I should know better.
Luckily, I knew enough to downplay it after the initial shock (and after he had repeated it quietly about 15 more times) so that he would tire of saying it and move on to putting stickers on the kitchen chairs. He did, and I haven’t heard it since. But a good reminder nonetheless that the parroting years have begun. Time to really watch what I say.
And I’ll probably keep a sheet of stickers on hand at all times, just in case. I bet even June Cleaver would approve.