When I was in the 5th Grade, I remember looking down and seeing a bad word written on a classmate's shoe. This boy had written the word "DAM" on the side of his Vans, thinking, I'm quite certain, that he was cool.
What I distinctly remember about that moment, though, was the fact that he had misspelled the word, which still makes me giggle to this day. Being the sometimes arrogant, annoying, goody-little-two-shoes that I was at the time, though, I am still surprised at myself for not 1) Telling on him and 2) Correcting his spelling. It's quite obvious, isn't it, that I was meant to major in English and teach it later in life, right?
My parents, for the most part, sheltered my brother and I from foul language. They'd quickly turn the volume down on the radio when The Devil Went Down to Georgia got to that bit about being a "son of a gun" and instead of "Shit," I remember my dad correcting himself just in time and saying, "Aww sh-ut!"
That does not mean that my brother and I were unaware that the words existed, and apparently, we also knew how to spell them properly, we just did not encounter them in our everyday lives. I think the ban on hearing the words has led me to a life of cursing like a sailor. No, not really. I'm just foul-mouthed and ill-tempered most of the time. ;)
After we became parents, Dr Pop and I didn't really try to curb our language all that much. That is, until the fateful day Boy Pop, at the tender age of 2 and a half, started parroting us. There isn't much that is more adorable and simultaneously horrifying than one's toddler running around happily sing-songing the words, "Oh shit! Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit!"
We try to curb our proclivities toward the "bad" words, but sometimes, more often than I care to fully admit, we slip. The radio slips. We just don't censor ourselves or our company or our lives, for that matter. We have friends who do. Friends who would love for their children to believe that they are sainted and would never think of utterring the F-word and wouldn't even know what it means. We do look down on them a little. Mainly because we know their children. Trust me, they KNOW.
Sorry. Got off on a tangent. Will probably happen again.
So. The other day, we were listening to some song on the I-pod while in the car. Boy Pop pipes up, "That's the second time I've heard that word in a song this week!" I told him it was a bad word. A very bad, BAD word. Probably the worst word a person can say out loud. It is an offensive description of certain people and he should never, ever say it. I told him that sometimes people use it in songs about themselves, but we could never say it. I thought he understood.
When we got home, Dr Pop reinforced the ban on the word and its use.
A while later, that evening, we had some friends over. When it was time for them to leave, one of their boys asks Dr Pop what the word "x-x-x-x-x"* was. We stood there with our mouths open in shock. In horror. Dr Pop asked him where he saw it. The boy said that our son had spelled it into this talking robot program on the iPad to get the robot to say it. Needless to say, we stumbled our way through the incident and the family left.
I feel like a failure. I thought that it was unrealistic to shelter our son to the point that he thought certain words didn't exist. I thought it was enough to explain to him that there are certain things we don't say. Certain things that, when said, make the person speaking them look bad (I'm including myself) and uneducated (yes, the former teacher of the English language has no imagination when it comes to expressing my frustrations most of the time).
This child of mine, this super-smart little boy, found a way around the rule of never speaking the word... Just type it into a computer program and have the computer say it! Won't that be funny! Ugh.
So the program has been deleted from the iPad and the priveleges on said system have been removed for the time being.
I think it's time to re-think our approach here.
*The word, naturally, was misspelled. I didn't correct him. Some words, I've decided, don't need to be spelled correctly.