According to my sister Bridget, the first time I cussed was when I was four. Eight siblings had just crawled out of the backseat of our dad’s station wagon. I was about to follow suit when Bridget closed the door in my face, forgetting that I was still in the car. Realizing her mistake, she turned around to open it. Before she could, she read my little lips as I yelled, “oh shit.” I was angry and surprised and I had no other choice but to curse my way through the situation. I don’t think I’ve stopped swearing since.
Darla is an even earlier bloomer than I was. It was a proud moment in my life when I realized that my 18-month-old daughter was a swearer. This special occasion happened for me when I gave Darla a juice box filled with coconut water. She took a long, satisfied pull from it, slammed it down on the table and said, “Oh S” (but it’s not just “s”) with a big grin on her face. Greg and I looked at each other and put our heads on the table. The most troubling part about this wasn’t the fact that she said it, but that she had reached a level of sophisticated cussing that she completely bypassed the frustrated or angry profanity and went straight for the joyful use.
This is a wake up call for me. Although I’ve been very conscious not to let vulgarity rein, I’ve let a few (or maybe a little more than a few…) muttered profanities pass my lips in her presence. Sometimes, it came as a result of running late for an appointment and seeing that Darla had decided to take my bag and dump it all over the floor. Other times, it was when I’d been so excited by something cool Darla has done (like dancing like a “Maniac”) that I exclaim, “that’s f’ing amazing.” I’m 100% to blame for this and I apologize in advance to all of the parent’s Darla and I come in contact with. Darla has been known to teach other kids such wonderful things as “no, no, no, no, no” or screaming at the top of her lungs. Here’s just one more thing to add to your list of “things my child learned from Darla that I now have to unteach it.”
I’m at a loss of how to deprogram Darla, but I have been trying my hand at redirecting her language. Here are some examples: When Darla says the s-word I pretend she has said “cheese.” With her garbled tones, it’s an easy mistake to make. I’m hoping after enough rounds of this, she will get confused and think she’s actually saying cheese. Also, I believe I’ve heard Darla say the b-word, but I just translate that to “peach.” When the day comes when Darla says the f-word, I imagine I will have to think she’s saying “fork” and pass her the utensil.
I’m hoping this plan works. I try not to let my mind linger on the fact that she may just end up saying the s-word every time she wants a slice of cheese.