It IS A Bad Word, God Dammit
This morning I had to warn the preschool teacher about Mini’s swearing problem.
This was a preemptive strike. I had hoped that the time that Mini repeated what I said in a moment of frustration had been just a one time thing, just a kind of slip-up. But as time has passed, it’s become clear that, though Mini might not be planning on swearing all of the time, it is something that could happen. And since I can no longer be certain that Mini won’t, in a fit of sandbox-induced rage, try out his new phrase on a classmate, I thought I might earn some points by giving them a heads up.
This was particularly odd conversation to be having, too, when you consider the fact that I don’t really, earnestly, believe this particular expression to be a bad word. For one thing, it’s two words, but that’s splitting hairs — and even still, it doesn’t even rank on the scale of phrases that are likely to offend me, even if it seems, I don’t know, a little trashy to have my two-year-old saying it.
And let’s be honest, it’s also pretty fucking funny to hear him say it.
In fact, Mr. Right-Click has taken to inciting Mini to say it, just for the joy of hearing it come out of a two-year-old’s mouth. Like this morning, when Mini was playing around with the closet door, and telling me to get out of the way, Mr. Right-Click says, “Get out of my way, Mommy, GOD DAMMIT!” and then Mini says, “Get out of my way, God DAMMIT!
The mother in me strictly believes that teaching him this stuff is wrong. But the comedian in me thinks it is kind of funny, and who cares? anyway, if it’s not even a real swear word. But then I think, “We cannot have a two year old going to school and saying this, right?”
So I’m torn. God DAMMIT.
The preschool teacher told me that this was not unusual, that she had heard it all. And then she told me about a kid who used to mispronounce the word “truck” because of his two-year-old pronunciation quirks, mixing up the tr- sound with the f-sound. And that his mother had been mortified, and had warned them, just in case he came to school demanding to play with his “FUCK!”
I said, “Yeah, this is not a mispronunciation. This is correct usage. On multiple occasions. And I know he learned it from me.”
She still said it was no big deal. That one time she had a kid who told her, “My Mommy says, ‘Fuck!’ But I’m not allowed to say it. It’s a bad word — Fuck is a bad word. I cannot say Fuck.” So that the kid, at final count, had managed to say the word three times in the process of explaining about how only adults can say “Fuck.”
And I said, yeah. Well anyway.
Because I didn’t want to get into a philosophical discussion with her about this, that there was pretty much a consensus that “fuck” was a word we should agree not to teach our kids to say at school, whereas God DAMMIT was a little bit of a grey area, given the fact that Mr. Right-Click is an athiest and I am an agnostic, and the phrase has no religious significance to us, or probably to most of the kids at Mini’s preschool, given the makeup of the school’s population.
But that we also know that there are certain people for whom this particular expression might in fact be very offensive, and that perhaps society asked of us to take those people into consideration when we think about what is funny to teach our kids, even if it first happened by accident, and even if we don’t see what the big goddamn deal about it is.
But then, I thought, fuck it.