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Salty dogs

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of hearing my children use their first bad words.

I was sitting in my son's room watching them play on his bed. We recently moved a large, stuffed chair with ottoman out...which required taking the door off the hinges, taking the legs off the chair...and it's opened up the space as a popular spot.

Leda, the youngest who is 2, likes to invade space, cause trouble, and steal toys. Cole, the older who is 3, likes to go on offense as the aggressor in a bid to play defense. It makes for interesting times, lately. So, when Leda began to whine about the situation while Kelly was at a spinning group, I felt little sympathy because she brought her brother's wrath upon herself. I've been trying to convince her that she only invites trouble by enthusiastically playing the part of the annoying baby sister. Leave him alone and he, generally, will leave you alone, etc..

I told her--very matter of fact--that she should quit whining and go play in the living room if she had a problem sharing his bed. She instantly knew she was beaten and muttered under her breath, "damn it."

A beat went by while I stared at her unsure if I heard what I thought I heard. Then Cole asked, very concerned, "did she just say 'damn it?'"

Yes, yes she did. And, apparently, you know it, too.

I couldn't stop laughing. I was so proud!

It was in-context for both of them. It was smart and savvy about language. It was aware and functional. Everything swearing should be! I was so proud. And in so much trouble. I smiled and tried to figure out in my head how to simultaneously praise them for excellent communication skills while noting that polite company among preschoolers does not use that phrasing.

Even more, they realized they hit a nerve. I buckled and hid my head between my legs as I sat on the floor. My smile had given way to hysterical laughter and they knew. They understood exactly where they had me.

So they said it again. And again. And again.

I asked them quietly and in my best dad-voice to stop saying that word. It isn't nice. We don't talk that way...of course, we do. Mama and Daddy shouldn't say those things either and if you catch us you should tell us. But DLP and myself curse like sailors. The vulgar, offensive apple doesn't fall too far from the vulgar, offensive tree, my friends

My little profane monkeys were now jumping on the bed screaming it as loud as possible while I nearly had to leave the room. "Damn it! Damn it! Damn it!" It had a glee to it. Leda had used it properly, but now it had become a playground taunt used against me. I couldn't stop laughing was perhaps my favorite and funniest memory in 3 years of parenting.

When I finally got it together I put my serious face on and explained very carefully that there are bad words. Of course, I don't really believe this. I was now telling a parent-lie. Your face won't freeze that way, etc.. It felt funny. In a year or two I can explain the social differences of informal and formal culture and why we don't turn up shirtless at a restaurant but I have no problem with you eating shirtless at the table in our own home. Some rules are, indeed, silly. This rule is not because I have a problem with you saying naughty things. It's that you need to know that others will have a problem with it. Be aware. The rule is more to protect you from the surprise of a teacher's stern reaction rather than any kind of non-arbitrary reason.

There's 7 words you can't say on television, too. But we'll save the lesson on George Carlin for a few years from now. It'll blow their mind one day that the guy from Thomas has such a foul mouth.