It feels good to curse. The “F word” is by far my favorite and most over-used expletive; this versatile linguistic phenomenon suits any circumstance! It’s powerful, empowering, funny, and oh-so-satisfying. Sometimes, it’s the only word that will do. Plus, in 2009 researchers found that swearing helps alleviate pain! Don’t argue with science. So yes, before kids, my unfiltered commentary would make a sailor blush. But of course, everything changes with time. I knew that I couldn’t keep my potty-mouth up once we had impressionable little minds developing in our home, so for the past several years, I’ve made a concerted effort to clean it up. I’m classy now.
Preschoolers can be so frustrating. They fight with their siblings over the dumbest stuff. They refuse to eat the dinner you spent precious time preparing. They make you repeat yourself twenty times and threaten repercussions before they get into gear. They throw insane, heaving tantrums over nothing. They make huge messes right after you’ve cleaned the house. How do they make a cubic foot of tiny confetti within three minutes of getting their hands on a pair of scissors? Why must they spread it everywhere? Why do they always bounce their balls right into the dog’s water dish? What is the obsession with rolling Play Doh into tiny balls that somehow fall into and instantly become one with the carpet? Why are you stepping on the Play Doh after you drop it? Why can’t you put the caps back on the markers? Can you clean up your toys? Please put your shoes away! Calm down! Don’t hit! Go to sleep! Eat a vegetable! Is this hard? Is your life so hard? Are my few rules so terrible? *sobbing*
Nobody is perfect.
I think you know where this is going.
The first time it happened, we were on vacation in Hawaii. It was a fantastic trip… with the notable exception of one sour day. We had spent the afternoon “relaxing” on the beach, which any mom of multiple preschoolers knows means an hour of prepping and packing; lugging towels, sand toys, snacks, water, and sun protection across the hot sand; lathering up two wriggling kids to prevent burns; dealing with the special treat of a kid still in pull-ups, pooping into a wet sandy swim diaper (gag/chafe); actively keeping the kids from getting sucked into the ocean; trying to wipe sand off the salty skin of two over-tired, itchy, and whiny kids; and shaking even more sand out of everything, forever, into infinity. Anyway.
Thinking it would lift our spirits after leaving the beach, my husband and I made the dire mistake of going out to eat dinner (with the kids) at an actual restaurant. Let’s just cut to the chase and say that by 7:30, I lost my cool while trying to convince my four-year-old to stay in bed and go to sleep. How was she still awake? I don’t often yell, and this time was no different… except that I very calmly let some F-bombs fly, which is frankly a lot more disturbing. “Sweetie. You really need to stay in your f***ingroom right now. I don’t want to hear any more f***ing whining.” I needed to say the word, and it helped me de-stress at the same time that it felt terrible, as soon as it came out. My sweet daughter was quiet, processing this new sound. I can still hear her little voice, her mollifying tone, as she looked at me with big eyes and asked, “Mom? What does f***ing mean?” IT MEANS I’M A FAILURE AT PARENTING!
I am truly ashamed to admit that this has not been an isolated incident. I can think of at least – ahem – a few other times that I’ve hissed the word in the presence of my kids when at my wit’s end and trying not to yell. I really do feel terrible about it and hate that I can’t seem to cut out the swears altogether when I’m around my sweet, only-sometimes-terrorist children.
But leave it to kids to turn even these awful slip-ups into something to laugh about. The other night, I was having a rougher-than-normal time wrangling my kids into submission before bed. They were feeding off each other’s silliness so much that I had to separate them for story time, as opposed to reading them books together. After I put my little one down, I brought my daughter into the bathroom to brush her teeth. She seemed to sense that they were pushing my buttons. She looked at me in the mirror with a glimmer in her eye, and said “So what’s that grown-up word you say? Is it thucking? Like, time to brush your thucking teeth?” And she giggled, and I felt a wash of guilt before I apologized that I ever used adult words around her. And we snuggled, and I once again resolved not to swear ever again in front of my kids.
It’s been three days, and so far so good…