You’d think we lived in a nudist colony…
…because my children hate clothes with the fire of a thousand suns.
The nudity low point may have been when I had to photoshop clothes onto Peanut in order to be able to blog about this.
What is new, however, is Peanut’s sense of modesty when someone comes to the door. Or so I learned one day a few weeks ago.
I wasn’t surprised when Peanut was wearing nothing but a smile that day after school. We were dancing in the kitchen when I heard the front door open. I knew it was my husband; Peanut didn’t. Assuming it was a stranger about to see her naked, Peanut’s eyes widened in fear as she spun on her heel and ran out of the kitchen yelling,
Shit! Shit! Shit!”
My husband heard the whole thing and saw our five year old streak across the hallway into the privacy of her playroom. He walked into the kitchen and said, “Did she just say what I think she just said?”
It was one of those moments that you know is coming but still happens when you least expect it.
With my potty mouth, I knew the day was coming when one of the kids would pick up one of the, uh, less desirable words in my vocabulary. And here it was. I walked into the playroom, passing my husband and his smug I-told-you-this-would-happen look on the way. I asked Peanut to sit down with me so we could talk.
Me: I heard you yell something as you ran into the playroom. What word were you saying?
Her: I was saying Shit! SHIT! SHIIITTT!!!!
Me: Huh. And what does that word mean to you, Peanut?
Her: I don’t know. I just hear you say it all the time when something bad happens.
<this is the moment when I realize that this whole situation really is all my damn fault. Whoops? There I go again.>
Me: Peanut, honey, let’s talk about that word. That word is a bad word for poop. Sometimes people use bad words, even Mommy, but it really isn’t a good choice. It makes your mouth sound dirty.
Peanut: Oh. So shit is a bad word?
Me: Yes. Sometimes it’s fun to say bad words but you can get in trouble for saying them to grown ups or at school. We probably shouldn’t use that word anymore. But let’s say it ten times before we put that word away. Ok?
Me and Peanut at a whisper: shit shit shit <peals of giggles from Peanut>
(louder now): SHIT. SHIT. SHIT.
(chanted at a full yell): SHIT! SHIT! SHIT!
(the grand finale): SSSSSSHHHHHHIIIIIIIITTTTTT!!!!!!!
<Enter husband looking less-than-amused and completely disarmed.>
Me: I’ve got this, honey. We’ll be right out.
Husband: <Shaking his head as he closes the door>
Me: So Peanut, can you help me remember that that word is a bad word?
Peanut: Sure. But what happens if you say that word?
Me: Tell you what. If you hear me say that word, I will put a quarter in our coin jar. Sound good?
I have no idea if I did the right thing here. My goal was to disarm the word of its power while still explaining that Peanut will be reprimanded for using bad language in the real world (whether or not its allowed in our house).
Since then, I haven’t heard Peanut use that word once. I have seen her take in a shocked breath when she hears grown ups out and about say it. Then she looks at me wide-eyed and soundlessly mouths “They just said a baaaad word!” We laugh about it and move on.
Words can be used to hurt or to heal. Our turn of phrase can connect us with others or sever ties. The lesson I want my children to learn is that choosing our words is important. But the words themselves don’t have power; it’s the way we use them that matters.
Oh and the other lesson? I’m going to be running out of quarters. Any day now.
Your comments are better than a well-place expletive.
Please leave one below!