Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The F Word


Yesterday I volunteered in the computer lab in Captain Adorable's school. They go to the computer lab once a week; yesterday they were working on a research project to learn about animals. I like helping in the computer lab because the children sit quietly at their desks and I can solve every problem they come across. :)

Afterwards, I stayed to have lunch with my son. I had not brought lunch, but just sat at the table with him while he and his classmates ate. The other boys at the table told me how one boy--let's call him Joe--had recently gotten in trouble for saying the F word. I am surprised that a kindergarten aged child would know this word but I suppose I should not be! I did not ask any questions about the word because I thought I could easily whip up excitement around the word and I did not want to do that.

Captain Obvious is in California for work again, so it was just the two of us at home. When we sat down to eat dinner (I made mashed potatoes, along with protein and vegetable, so he was happy!), I asked about the F word. Capt. Adorable told me that Joe says the word all the time--at snack, during center time, et cetera, but Joe did not know it was a bad word. I asked him if he knew what the word was. Capt. Adorable thought Joe was saying "fox." I was happy to hear that he didn't know the word because of course if he did know it, that would mean he had heard it before.

We talked about the word and he asked what it really was. I told him. I hope I made the right decision. My reasoning was that if I do not tell him and he tries to figure it out, he might get in trouble. But if I tell him and discuss it with him openly in the safety and privacy of our home, then the curiosity is lessened and he can avoid ever saying it (even accidentally) in a setting where it will get him in trouble. I told him that it is a very bad word, and there are only a couple of words that are worse. He asked what those words were, but I said I'd tell him when he's older. He asked if the word is as bad as the word "stupid" and I told him it is much worse and that even grownups get in trouble for saying it, which surprised him. He wanted to know more about that, and I said that people don't like to be friends with those who talk in a rude way and it would be harder for people who talk like that to get a job. Which is somewhat true...

I always want to be honest with my child and to teach him the proper ways to behave while at the same time letting him know that he can ask me anything. But of course I do not know if I am doing it right. Many things (like using bad words) are complex subjects and I cannot explain all the nuances to him in one sitting. But I try to give him the information he needs to 1) stay out of trouble and 2) understand. All I can do is my best, and for me, open communication and truth (age-appropriate truth) is the best.

1 comment:

Nya gwa said...

I remember the first time I learnt eh f-word. i was, four or five, maybe? an older child at school came up to me and said 'i've heard you are clever and can read a lot. can you spell well' or something like that. i proudly said 'yes' and then he said 'what is this word then?' and spelled out the letters. i remember trying really hard in my head to visualise how to say that word and then said it, correctly, which elicited 'oh! you said a bad word! i'm going to tell the teacher on you!'. i was so scared and ashamed. much better, i think, to have your mother explain to you what the word is if other people in your class say it.