Maybe it’s because I’m a foreigner that I’ve never truly comprehended the impact the use of bad words has, what they stand for, and how they are perceived. I never gave it a second thought until the baby appeared, began to grow, and grew into a toddler. Children put a brake on the use of such words. And for the most part I can restrain myself. But what about those moments when I can’t?
I’m not saying that I’m mindlessly saying shit fuck piss or variations and combinations of those words when I’m around Sebastian. Unfortunately there are plenty of stress scenarios that I’m exposed to on a daily basis that can cause me to lose my restraint and use such language. Think driving. Think movie theater. Think any place filled with people. The problem is, as a parent I need to explain to my son why it’s not OK to use such words while I continue using them, even if it’s only sporadic.
A child is a sponge. Those little minds are highly impressionable, they’ll repeat whatever they hear. That’s when parenting needs to go into overdrive. Here’s an exchange with a three year old Sebastian:
“Sebastian, that is not a word that you should use. I’m sorry I said it, I shouldn’t have. It’s something adults say sometimes when they get frustrated. You should never use that word, especially not in school. You’ll get into trouble.”
“Good, so you understand?”
“Yes. It’s not OK to use bad words like ‘what the fuck.’”
Once I realized that I was playing with fire I was able to tone my act down quite a bit and we have been pretty successful at keeping his idea of what a bad word is fairly tame. Poop. Stinky butt. Stupid head. PeePee. The usual suspects. F-bombs have been extremely rare and always met with another conversation.
Last week Sebastian was asked to do a video submission for a late night talk show. It featured profanity. The dilemma. We had to prep Sebastian before revealing the line to him:
“Sebastian, this line has two really bad words in it. Remember, it’s not OK to use those words unless it’s for TV. And…”
“Is it fuck? Am I allowed to say fuck? Fuck?”
Yes, he was. And motherfucker too. Boy, he was giddy with excitement. I had no problem with him saying those words for a casting submission. The challenge for me was to not laugh so much and teach him that saying those words elicits laughter and are therefore a funny thing to say. What if he gets excited at school and calls someone there, say his teacher, a motherfucker. Well, so far, he hasn’t gotten ay notes home from school, at least not since the last one a few months back. But that’s a different story.
Anyway, here’s the best take of Sebastian, 6 years old, using profanity. Which is OK, because it’s for TV. Right?