AJ has always been fascinated with bad words. He doesn’t say them- but he will call you out every single time you say one. I’ll never forget when he was really young and my mom and I used to spell out S-T-U-P-I-D because we didn’t want him to hear the word. Well, not too long after, he started saying “P-I-D”. To this day, he says that only if he heard the word and wants to tell me about it. He never uses it negatively and never the real word. For years, if he hears any word (stupid, damn, crap or anything worse) he will just look at me like “did you hear that?!” He has trained me to look at him when someone says a bad word!
So now, he’s in 2nd grade and we all know that means he will start hearing those words more often and likely say some of them when I’m not around. He watches videos online and I know they have bad words. He will tell me every time when he hears one. We have this exact conversation many times a week:
AJ: “Mom, there was a bad word”
Me: “what word?”
AJ: “what beavers make”
Me: “ok, thanks for telling me”
AJ: “yep, I won’t say it”
The other day I was thinking about it and I realized that if he is going to hear the words, then I want him to know- from me- what they mean. I don’t want him learning from his friends what they think it means. Plus, I thought if we talked about it, maybe it would take the “excitement” out of saying the words?
One night a few weeks ago I was lying with AJ in his bed and I asked him if he would like to talk about bad words. That we were in a “circle of trust” and he could not get in trouble during this conversation. He could say anything, any word and not be in trouble. The only catch was, he could not go to school and talk to other friends about it or say the words to them. He agreed and we talked.
I asked him what words he hears and what he thinks the words mean. He asked me about the “B” word is. I explained to him what the “B” word actually is and how what it really means is a female dog (he laughed). I then made it VERY clear that he should never- even when he gets older- say that to or about a girl. He asked me about “crap” and “damn” and I explained what they meant and told him he could use other words that sounded better but meant the same thing. I also told him that one day he would be able to say those words- just not in 2nd grade. He has friends who can say “stupid” or “oh my god” or “crap” and I think there are times he wants to be allowed to. And honestly- part of me thinks “why not?” But, then I think about how I feel about the kids who come to my house and say those words when playing with AJ. I don’t want some other mother thinking about AJ that way. It’s just not necessary and it is so ugly. There is a very popular song on the radio right now called “Shut up and Dance with me” and I told him recently he can say it when the song is on. But he really doesn’t! It doesn’t feel right to him. Finally, he did ask me about the “F” word. I didn’t explain the literal meaning of that word, but I told him that some people say that and it means many things. It could be like “darn” or “crap” and that it’s not a word kids need to use. I tried to be very clear that there are other words he can use that will mean the same thing. However, I know, as an adult sometimes saying crap isn’t quite as gratifying as saying “F!” (I didn’t tell him that!)
I hope this conversation made him realize he can talk to me. We can talk about things that aren’t comfortable and he won’t be in trouble. I’ve told him many times- if he just comes to me, he will not be punished. If he lies or I hear he’s saying these things when I’m not around, he will be.