It happened and I wasn’t prepared. We were driving home from watching The Hobbit with Mark driving and my brother in the passenger seat. The boys and I were all in the back having conversations about who knows what when one of them asked,
What is the F word?
At first I didn’t panic because we’ve been down this road before. S has asked me,
Mom, can I say the “S” word?
And the “S” word ends up being the word Stupid.
Mom, do you know what the “SH” word is? It’s Shut Up.
So this time I’m thinking they are going to say something along the lines of fart or freak. But then like a weighted bomb S replies to the question at hand with,
Oh, I know the F word. It’s fuck, right?
To which his big brother quickly responds,
Yep, it’s fuck. I’ve heard that word. I don’t think we’re supposed to say it.
Ahhhhhhhhhhhh! What to do with this. What to do with this. Think, Amy. Think. But first make sure immature laughing husband and brother see your stink eye in the rear view mirror.
I’m a freethinking mama so I don’t just categorize things as bad or good. I don’t think swear words are bad and I don’t want my boys to feel like they’ve done something wrong if they use one. I use them and I’m not bad. So to say they are bad words implies that any person using them is also bad. Knowing what I didn’t want to do, I quickly came up with this response (with no help from laughing front seat duo).
Me: Fuck is indeed the F word. It’s not a bad word but it’s an ugly word. And it’s a word that is better used by grown-ups who know when and how to use it. But even for grown-ups it’s kind of the ugliest of ugly words. Where did you hear that word?
Because the F word is my personal favorite I was scared to death the answer was going to be, “I heard it from you, mom. I heard it from you.”
S: I heard it from C (a neighbor boy).
J: Yeah, me too
S: What does fuck mean?
More fits of laughter erupt from the front seat! I’m hoping they can feel the heat from my angry stares at the back of their heads.
Me: Ummmm….let’s see how do I put this? Fuck is a really crude or yucky way to say having sex.
Giggles from everywhere now.
Me: I’m not going to tell you boys that fuck is a bad word but I would highly recommend not using it. If you choose to use it there may be consequences. Some parents might not let you come over to play with their kids anymore. You might get sent to the principal’s office. You might make some people really uncomfortable. Even as a grown-up there are some people I am very careful not to use swear words around, like Poppy and Nana or G’ma and G’pa. They don’t like those words so I try to be respectful around them. So just because C says this word does not mean he’s a bad kid. But it’s probably not the best choice.
And then we were home and on to the next thing. Next on the agenda, discipline the “grown boys” (who later apologized for being overtaken with the case of the giggles).