Last night, my Mini-Me said her first proper swear word.
“Jeeeeeesus anyway,” she announced as she sat on the toilet.
Now, I know that children will copy what they hear, and I’m quite able to admit that I am no stranger to the odd expletive, but as a family, we do try not to use bad language in front of the kiddies.
Obviously, at some point, we’ve failed.
Not only did she pronounce “Jesus” quite beautifully; She used it in the same context that a grown up might. She was frustrated (still no poopoo!). She was trying hard and getting nowhere. She was exasperated and she knew exactly how to express it!
She also knew that it wouldn’t be acceptable, because those pretty blue eyes immediately darted to my face to see how I would react. She was challenging Mammy.
We’ve been here before. The first time she ventured into Bad-word-land was with “Shup-up”. My reaction to that was an automatic scold. “No! We do not say Shut-up to Mammy. That is not nice!”
The result? “Shuppy-up” is what she now reverts to if she wants to push Mummy’s patience.
This time, I was armed and ready. I did what any clever parent would do. I did the opposite of last time. I pretended it hadn’t happened and continued talking about Mr. Poopoo needing to go for a swim.
Not getting the reaction she wanted, she said it again…this time, more slowly and dramatic. (A born actress I tell you.)
This time, I decided to take the bait, but on my terms.
“Yes Honey! You saw Baby Jesus in the crib at Christmas! Aren’t you a clever girl?”
This wasn’t what she’d anticipated in her brilliant toddler mind, but it seemed to work. She began to talk about Christmas and Santa and her pretty dress and her Christmas Tree. And so, I thought I’d won.
I thought that I’d done well. I thought I was clever. I thought I’d distracted her and had taught her how to use the word properly. I’d turned the word back into what it is, rather than allowing it the status of swear-word.
That ‘Supernanny‘ doll should move into my house to see how it’s done. I have it. I’m in charge.
Smug and quite delighted with myself, I carried on with my evening. Husband would be so proud of how I dealt with the situation. I’d be admired by friends with toddlers when I told them how to deal with their little Darling’s attempts to use bad words. I might even win a prize of some sort. I’d start giving lectures to parents on “Expletives and Toddlers: how to survive.”
Then I woke up.
Princess was throwing a strop. She pulled off her Elsa dress and was screaming about her Tinkerbell Dress. Whatever she wanted, I obviously wasn’t doing it. It was one of those tantrums that began over virtually nothing and resulted in fire-alarm pitch screaming and stomping. She stormed into the hall…and suddenly, all of my smugness dissappeared…
“BAAAABY JEEEEESUS ANYWAY!”
So, not only had I NOT dealt with this situation properly, I had given the little genius a way out. A safe pass. A golden ticket. At only three years old, she had manipulated me and my words. What I’d actually done, was teach her how to use it, without getting into trouble.
I was gunked. My jaw actually hit the floor. I listened to hear if she’d say anything else. She didn’t. She was waiting to hear my reaction. She’s still waiting, because although I actually snorted with laughter, she didn’t hear me. A few minutes later, she popped her pretty head around the corner. I carried on as if nothing had happened.
I know some people will be disgusted. I know I shouldn’t have laughed. I know it’s terrible that a child is able to use language like this. But I also know, that sometimes, laughing is all we can do.
I’m not a psychologist. I’m not a child specialist. I’m not a genius.
I’m a mum. I’m a mum who, once upon a time, thought smugly that my little girl would NEVER behave like that. I’m a mum who is learning every single day. I’m a mum who will sometimes just laugh, because really, what other option do I have?
On a positive note, she’s learning. She’s testing boundaries. She’s experimenting with language. She’s establishing her little self in the grand scheme of things. And every day, I “Thank Jesus” that she can!
I am Swearing-Mum x