Swearing with my 9 year old.

"Sometimes S-H-I-T can be a funny word," my 9 year old explained to me as we hung out in the kitchen while he unpacked his lunchbox.

"Yeah, it can be. When was it funny to you?" I asked.

"Like the other day, when Ian was opening this thing and ..." And here the details didn't matter so much. My son had decided to open up a conversation with me about swearing! With complete confidence and zero trepidation. I tried to maintain my mom cool but I was afraid my giddiness was showing through. I was in Buddy the Elf mode. "Swearing is my favorite!" I clapped to my happy elf self. 

"... and then Ian was like 'ohhhhhh, s-word' and it was really funny. It was the right word for that time." He chuckled, remembering the good times. 

"Yeah it totally can be funny sometimes. I say it, too." I laughed with him.

"I know. I can hear you sometimes," he said. "But you don't sound angry when you say it. And I don't really hear you say the f-word." 

"Ha! Oh I do." Oh darling son-o-mine, just you wait. You'll hear it. And then you won't ever un-hear it.

"It's not that swearing is bad, you just don't want it to become your first language. Use your brain and your incredible vocabulary first, and sometimes, those other words just fit, and that's okay." I said. God, I hope I'm not f-ing this up, I thought.   

"Yeah, some of my friends think it's cool to swear all the time when their parents aren't around. They just sound like stupid kids with nothing better to say." 

And this is when the love balloon inside my chest filled to near bursting and then floated out of me, into a dreamy sky.

"Well I'm glad to hear you say that. I'm sure you probably swear sometimes, right? When I'm not around." I prodded.

"Yeah I do. Just the other day when I was with my friends I said 'crap'." 

"Ha. Well, I think there's some debate over if that's an actual swear word or not." I smiled. "But it definitely was a swear word in my house when I was a kid. I got in trouble once for saying the word 'sucks'!"

"Oh ouch. That sucks." We both laughed at that one. 

"I think there are two things to keep in mind about swearing, kiddo. Always use your bigger vocabulary first. Find the words that fit, and learn new words constantly. Language is so rich and helps you become a better storyteller. And the other thing is know your audience. I mean, like, know who you're talking with. Is it Noah? Then by all means drop a 'crap' or even an s-h-i-t. Is it your teacher? Well I bet he's gonna wanna hear that big vocabulary of yours more than he'll want to hear what he can read on the bathroom stalls. Just be respectful of those around you, but be authentically you. You can do both, believe it or not."

"I get it. We've read three Percy Jackson books now and there hasn't been one f-word! But still, sometimes swearing is funny."

And that was it. A brief kitchen conversation with my kid about swearing. About using your words wisely, but celebrating the full spectrum, and goddamit, be respectful. 

Fuck yeah. 

I love the crap outta this kid.


Ladies in Navy said…
what a great dialogue you had with your son! my parents definitely were pretty strict on swearing and i think it caused me to swear more when i wasn't around them!

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