When kids are little they constantly mess up their words, attempting to say things like spaghetti. These words come out all twisted and mixed up and parents LOVE it. It’s the cutest thing ever, a shrinky-dink adult! And we giggle. And we “awww.” And if we are Super-Parents, we write it all down in their baby books. If you are like me you don’t. The Super-Parent title is just too far out of reach. Damn. And if you’re really far away from the Super-Parent status, and you are sorta kinda human, your kid will start shouting profanities the week before she begins her Montessori preschool (while the other kids recite Maya Angelou poems).
The worst part is not that your kid sounds like they are ready to join the Mafia. The worst part is you can’t laugh.
It’s the cardinal rule of parenting.
As soon as your kid knows you liked what they said, they will repeat it, in front of the other kid’s parents, in front of the grandparents, because they want to entertain those adults, too. If you manage not to laugh, you will try to cover for yourself, saying creative things like, “I said, ‘Ducking Fur Bag’, honey. That’s all. It’s not very nice, but they almost hit us in the ridiculous traffic circle that Americans have never figured out how to maneuver.”
It all began before her second birthday. My husband and I were laying in bed, pontificating over our gifted toddler who was sleeping soundly in her room. Suddenly, over the baby monitor we hear, “Mama, get my friggin’ pillow!” After shooting something out of my nose…nearly nailing my husband on the forehead, I became fearful that I had given birth to the reincarnation of Al Capone and when I opened her door she’d be holding a pistol, all sideways and gangster-like, just waiting for silly mommy to fall into her trap. She’d glare at me, her pillow lying between us on the floor, and say, “Go ahead, Mom, MAKE MY DAY!” But instead I composed myself and pretended she was just a wee toddler. Sigh. See, she’s not a gangster, she’s a beautiful little girl. I picked her up and squeezed her (and not because I was secretly checking her for weapons), sniffed her little kid head (this is something moms do, I wasn’t checking for gun-powder residue, I swear). All was well in our world. The world next door to the “Super-Parents.” A more colorful place, with snorting laughter and an overabundance of pet hair (and an under abundance of manners).
She began singing the “Goddammit, dag-nabbit, goddammit, dag-nabbit” song in the tub, at the top of her lungs, while her grampa was sitting in the living room. He poked his head around the corner and looked at me, “Is she singing what I think she’s singing?” “Yes! Whatever you do don’t laugh!” Dag-nabbit was the result of my effort at telling her she had misunderstood the phrase, and adding some quality Scooby Doo vocabulary (circa 1970). She’d sit in the grass, a picture of sweet childhood innocence, pulling up grass blades much as people do when pulling petals from a daisy. “She loves me, she loves me not” they lovingly say to the dismembered flower. “Goddammit, dag-nabbit” my daughter lovingly said to the grass as she ripped it from its earthy home. She was happy as a clam. (a clam abducted by pirates and encouraged to drink copious amounts of rum before her third birthday.)
Now, my verbally gifted daughter is nearly eight and I have changed. I tend to shout things like “Booger-Head!” in traffic, and call people “Dooooo Bags” when they are really deserving. Doesn’t change the fact that last year she buckled herself into her carseat and said,
“Well, Cheesus Grist.”
What would Cheesus do? Perhaps correct the vocabulary? But where would I get my laughs? I promise, before she starts middle school I’ll work on it. Actually, I might not have to. She’s been much better lately.
Unless you count the crotch.
She has confused the word “crutch” with the word “crotch” and I can’t bring myself to correct it. This is just setting her up for failure, I know, but when your kid says, “Mommy, remember when my friend’s dog ate my crotch?” or “Remember the crotches I built? The crotches were so fun!” you must understand my weakness.
I don’t get out much.