Thursday, June 6, 2013

The %#$! Shirt ...

This morning, my 2 year old boy walked up to me after finishing his cereal, held his arms straight up in the air, tight to his ears -- the international toddler sign for help-me-take-my-shirt-off -- and said, “My shirt is Stupid.”
I think he meant “wet,” but I understood. He'd spilled milk down his front and needed a new one.

“Don’t call things stupid, Drew,” I corrected, as always.

“But it is stupid,” he replied.

My wife and I try not to say words we hate like “stupid” around the kids. We don’t say “hate” much either, in addition to many other really bad words.

But still, the kids learn to say words like this, from older siblings, from the school bus (always blame those “other kids” on the school bus), and from the occasional times when my wife or I forget the presence of our children and utter things that can only be translated here in Q-bert-ese.  For those who don’t know, that’s an ancient curse-word only language muttered by dads when doing projects around the house.

He must be working on a house project.
Let’s face it, when it comes to words they should not say, kids are like F-ing little sponges.  Which reminds me of a little debate my wife and I have had recently.  Is the letter "F" a curse word now? Because apparently the word “Freaking” is. When I say “Freaking” around the kids, I get corrected. It’s freakin’ bull-crap.

Anyway, Drew took to calling things stupid a few months back.  Now, it might just be his favorite word. When his shirt gets wet, it’s stupid. When we’re out of milk, the jug is stupid. When his seatbelt won’t buckle, his seat is stupid. When his sisters won’t let him watch his show, they are stupid.  Okay, so sometimes he uses it correctly.  But we still don't want him saying it.

It reminds me of a few years back, when Chloe, who was 4-years-old then, started saying “boobs” all the freakin’ time. She’d just blurt it out, for no real reason, other than to get a laugh from her siblings. It was cute at first. Then she started doing it in public.

I recall a time at Target when I had her and her sister Sadie with me. An older woman came up to us, bent over the girls and said, “Aren’t you just the most precious little things.”

Chloe looked her right in the eyes and yelled, “Boobs!”

The woman was aghast. She gave me an awkward smile, shook her head a bit and departed. “Chloe!” I corrected, “We’ve talked about not saying that.” I said it loud enough so that all the people within the boob hearing range would know I am not the awful parent I appear to be. 

Eventually, all our kids stopped laughing when Chloe said “Boobs,” and so she stopped saying it. With Drew, it’s been a little tougher. No body laughs when he calls things stupid – though we all did at first. Each one of us has been conditioned to say, “Don’t say that.” Or to just ignore him. Neither approach is working. 

The boy just loves to call things stupid, and we are at a loss for how to fix it. Stupefied, you could say – if you were into saying things that aren’t that clever or funny.

As with everything in parenting, we know this too shall pass. We’ll look back and remember it as Drew’s stupid phase. And we’ll freakin' laugh about it. 
In the meantime, if anyone has any suggestions, we're listening.

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