This is not bad parenting.
My daughter was 15 months old when she dropped her first F-bomb.
Eliana had been sleeping with me while my husband was traveling on business. I had dragged myself out of bed and set my already bright-eyed child on the floor beside me, wishing for the few more minutes of precious sleep I knew I wasn’t going to get.
Still groggy, I leaned back into an exaggerated stretch and yawned out a sleepy “Motherf*cker.” I use swear words like the amazing Chef Gordon Ramsay of The F Word uses seasonings to perfectly accent the meals he creates. Or maybe I use them more like he does when he’s losing his sh*t in the kitchen when a chef hopeful does something incredibly stupid.
It’s honestly a toss-up.
I came out of my stretch and opened my eyes just in time to see my diaper-clad, fuzzy-haired angel raise her own arms overhead in an exaggerated stretch, throw her head back into a dramatic yawn, and sigh out the cutest chipmunk-voiced profanity I have had the pleasure to witness first-hand. And this is when I impressed the hell out myself simply by squelching the urge to laugh hysterically (and appreciatively, I might add).
While I laugh-cried inside my brain, it was time to Adult.
Before you grab for my Best Mother in the Universe trophy and run off with it back to that high horse you rode in on, I want to point out that I’m not gratuitous in my F-bomb usage. It’s an adjective. A sentence enhancer. The verbal exclamation point to accent frustration, happiness, boredom, or just to illustrate the fact that I’m still breathing.
I don’t do it on purpose. I never do.
Aside from church, where I’ve been trained since I could talk to not say anything that may result in multiple Hail Marys as penance, the swear words happen as naturally for me as not swearing happens for other people. A 2015 study states that those that swear are smarter than those that don’t. (Don’t get mad at me. I didn’t fucking write it.)
Just last year, Benjamin Bergen, author of What the F: What Swearing Reveals About our Language, Our Brains, and Ourselves, wrote an article for The LA Times in which he made a case for not sweating it when we drop an F-bomb (or five) in front of our kids.
It’s not like I’d be censoring myself if I didn’t have the scientific backup, but it is nice to be validated by science.
I’ve been told that “little pitchers have big ears” and that I need to “watch what I say” in front of the child who has always somehow known what to only laugh at and what she can repeat. Except for this one time, anyway. I’m the example, and I guess the thinking is that if I can say “Fuck,” she will assume she can, too. This was go time.
My little girl was testing boundaries to see what she could get away with.
I knew that any acknowledgment of her little show would only serve to guarantee multiple encores, possibly in church while being blessed by the priest during communion or while getting ready to fall asleep on Nana’s lap while we visited the in-laws.
Eliana stood there looking up at me expectantly. She was waiting for me to break into laughter or get mad and ground her from her fave Elmo show. I did neither. I ignored her. I wanted so very badly to laugh, but I held strong until she lost interest in announcing nap time, just like her mother. It took nearly a full week before the coast was clear and public outings were once again allowed. I was able to pretend a miraculous recovery from the imaginary plague on both our parts when we resumed our weekly dinner dates at my in-laws’ home. We started showing up for Sunday mass again.
And I kept swearing. I never stopped.
This isn’t bad parenting.
Not in my book and not on my book. Be Your Own Fucking Sunshine: An Inspirational Journal for People Who Like to Swear is her fave of the two I’ve published. Every time she sees a copy on my bookshelf or watches as I sign a copy to send to a reader, she giggles. I do, too, and this makes me happy. Bad words are only bad when we give them the power to censor our own speech and forms of self-expression. By choosing to be free with this part of myself in front of my daughter, she’s learning that swearing can be funny and often actually can make us feel better.
I have earned the right to swear simply by being an adult. Her mother gets to swear because her mother isn’t nine. The way I see it, if her mother can’t swear, her mother can’t drive or drink alcohol (not at the same time). Let’s be honest; there are plenty of things we do as adults in front of our children that no one in their right mind will tell another parent not to do for fear of setting a bad example. A glass of wine with dinner? Bring it on and pass a glass of sparkling apple juice to the little ones. Time to pay the bills? NOT IN FRONT OF THE KIDS, YOU NEANDTRATHAL.
Eliana is looking forward to being able to wear makeup and becoming a teenager and getting her driver’s license. One day, she’ll be allowed to spice up her language in appropriate settings. She knows this. And she’s perfectly happy to laugh at every F-bomb I happen to utter on a daily basis until that time finally fucking arrives.
Images via weheartit.com and giphy.com.
Comment: Do you swear in front of your kids?
This article has been republished from Ravishly with full permission. You can view the original article here.
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Pauline Campos is an artist, Aspie-Mom, and author of Be Your Own F*cking Sunshine: An Inspirational Journal for People Who Like to Swear and Babyfat: Adventures in Motherhood, Muffin Tops, & Trying to Stay Sane. ADHD is her superpower. Pauline Lives in Minnesota, but will always be from Detroit. Find her on Facebook and Twitter: @pauline_campos.