My Five-Year Old Swears and I Don't Give a Shit
I'll preface this all with a couple of clarifications. She doesn't swear THAT much, and it's not, like, at me, or at anyone else. She's pretty conversational about it, and doesn't do it in a little kid way. She knows where the swear word goes in the sentence, and after cursory analysis, I'd say she uses them most commonly as adjectives.
I hear her muttering "I'm not sleeping in my fucking room." She has also joyfully exclaimed that's she's "SO FUCKING HIGH UP!" while climbing a tree.
For example, after a debate about where she would be sleeping that evening (sometimes she is allowed to sleep in our bed, based on her long standing wolf-phobia - but that's another blog post entirely) I agreed she could sleep in our room, and as we're walking across the hall, I hear her muttering "I'm not sleeping in my fucking room." She has also joyfully exclaimed that's she's "SO FUCKING HIGH UP!" while climbing a tree.
I'm over it. Like, I was over it before she even said it, and I didn't give a shit before we were all quarantining, but now in week 10 I REALLY don't give a shit about it, and a million other things. And also, she was really fucking high up in that tree.
I don't want to make a big deal out of it, but we're both pretty good at swearing.
I feel like my husband and I made a decent attempt to not swear in front of our kids. But over time, it just seemed less important. They'd walk into a room as we're talking, or they hear something on a podcast that's playing in another room, and so on. And again, we have never, and would never, swear at them. For some historical context, both my husband and I grew up in the UK, my husband, just outside Glasgow. (And we all know that it's an established fact that Scottish people are excellent swearers.) We met working in a bar in Glasgow in the 90's. I don't want to make a big deal out of it, but we're both pretty good at swearing.
The total lack of shit that I give, is a matter of priorities, my own personality, and that swearing remains to me a small act of personal rebellion.
Who made those words bad? I mean, I know the really bad words. They are racist, misogynistic, sexist, ableist, homophobic, and so on. The things she says aren't any of those things.
Priorities wise, I have to spend my time on what matters when it comes to my kids. Me cracking down on her because she said a no-no word that she hears me, her dad, other relatives and grown-ups say just isn't a good use of my time, or energy. I mean, what do I even say? Don't say it in front of me or other grown-ups? What lesson does she take away from that? And also, I don't even know how to answer her about why she can't say it, because I don't know why we can't. Who made those words bad? I mean, I know the really bad words. They are racist, misogynistic, sexist, ableist, homophobic and so on. The things she says aren't any of those things.
And in terms of me making those words inaccessible to her, I wouldn't say swearing is a fundamental part of my personality. I'd like to think I'm more interesting than that, but trying not to swear in front of her did feel strangely difficult.
When it comes to swearing overall, I'm with Lenny Bruce. And the documentary F★CK) by Steve Anderson. Words, and this word, can be acts of rebellion. And as weird as it may seem to some, and obviously there's some pay-back for me down the line, I WANT my kids to choose rebellion when they need to. And I want it to feel natural to them.
I can look back over my life and see a ton of times when I should have said "Fuck this!", "Fuck that!" and "Fuck you!" way faster than I did at the time. And sometimes I never said it. So maybe my kids will do it faster than I did. Or maybe they'll just keep climbing trees and exclaiming their success in joyful, sweary ways. I can live with either.