How Many Years 'Til the F Word?

Birthday parties and sleepovers.

Our daughter Kelly will be 11 tomorrow. 

Today is what she calls her Vatugava (the day before your birthday) in her secret language she created called—Squage.

11 - It's hard to believe it, but true.  As it is for most parents, time is just flying by.  

My husband, Tom, cleaned out the shed this weekend, and found a cherished toy you ride—a plastic green inch-worm with yellow wheels and matching pea hat.  He heaped it on top of the garbage pail at the curb.

We had been given the inch-worm by our previous neighbor when we lived in our first house in the neighborhood behind Carvel. It made it here to our second house probably as a last-minute throw-in on the truck, lovingly urged on by our children. 

"Please dad.  Come on, please!"  I seem to remember them begging.    

They loved the toy, bopping up and down toddling down the driveway, literally inching along making no progress but having a ball just the same.

That green inch-worm caught my eye when I looked out the window every now and then as it rained all day Sunday.

Seeing the inch-worm instantly brought me back through the years, to when our children were younger growing past sleepless nights to toddler days.  Then, later when I set down an edict on no cursing in the house.   

At the age of seven, our son Robert began to find a thrill in letting one rip every now and then.   

"Sh _ _ !,"  he'd blurt out while playing Super Mario Kart.

"Hey, watch it!"  I'd say.

In today's fast-paced communicative world, it's difficult to parent.  You need razor-sharp instincts to know when to ease up and what battles to pick. Cell phones!  Not yet.  Email address?  Wait till at least middle school.  Laptop?  High School.  How much communication freedom do you give children and at what age?

Language is one of those battles I wage!

As a writer (and schoolteachers agree), language is valued.  It's sacred and should be treated with respect.  A favorite fortune cookie once said, "by honoring your words, you are honored in this world."

I couldn't agree more and enjoy how our children are learning various languages in the Syosset school district. After learning French, Italian, and Latin, they liked to come home and Google curse words.

Forbidden fruit is the sweetest and I figured, if we let them have a few innocuous, harmless words at home, maybe, just maybe, the curiosity will die down. Then they would be in the habit of speaking properly – maybe Queen's British English.

So, I made a rule that they could acquire a few off color words as they hit certain ages.

Let's see, at eight, I let them have the word—bull.  By nine they can say damn.  Ten is crap. By 11, it's hell and when 12 hits the real curse word sh _ _!   

Our youngest, Melanie, claims that I relinquished b-i-t-… (well fill in the rest that rhymes with witch) by 15 but I don't like that word ever – not in our house.  So I don't think that one will ever happen with somewhat approval.

"How old before the F word?" they ask.

21-years-old before the f – word, occasionally!

"Aw mom," she said.

Sometimes, they stand next to one another like poets in performance art and rattle off the curse words they've acquired on that need-to-know, age-by-age basis.

Melanie:  bull

Robert:  sh _ _ ! 

It's entertaining for outsiders who don't readily know us just yet!

After all the excitement this weekend about Kelly's b.f.f.'s sleeping over and presents and cupcakes, she excitedly said, "Yes, finally I get the H word."

"H" is in the house!

Monday morning they hauled off the green inch-worm and with it so many family memories.

TL December 15, 2010 at 12:09 PM
Very amusing. Yes, you have to pick your battles and where to give a little in order to gain a lot. Cursing was not, and still is not, tolerated in the house I group up in, forty-something years later. That's kind of amusing in and of itself. As for the inch worm, do they make those in adult size?


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