My daughter, Bela, dropped the f-bomb for the first time when she was four years old.
She was on the floor playing with a Pride of plastic lions. The baby lion had wandered away from the mama and daddy lions and was trapped under a clear, plastic cup. The mama lion, spotting her cub first, rushed up to the plastic prison, searching for a way to rescue her baby. After a moment, the mama lion yelled through the plastic in desperate frustration:
“I’m sorry. I can’t get you the fuck out of there.”
I always tell my daughter that when she is with me she is allowed to use any words that she wants. No word is off-limits. At school and/or Grampa’s house, however, things are different. In these places, there will be consequences. There will be trouble. There will be punishment. But not when she’s with me.
I’m a linguist by hobby and a lover of all things language. I try to teach my daughter that words are simply sounds that come from our mouths. The sounds are oftentimes less significant than the sentiment behind them. So, as long as she is exercising respect, she’s allowed to use whatever words she wants. And she does.
As a six year old, she now repeats things she hears from the grownups around her.
“Pissed off,” she’ll say, cutting her eyes toward me with a giggle.
“Hell yes, shit no, oh my god, damn it.”
She likes to play with the boundaries of the sounds that roll off her tongue, and I enjoy watching her try them on. Some of my favorites are: “Mama, Mama, Mama. Do you know what a symbiotic relationship is?” and “Why don’t you eat your own boogers?”
I’ll be honest, though; this approach sometimes yields less than awesome sentences, too. Like, “Mama, what happened to your hair?” or “Why are you so grumpy sometimes?” or “I’m not as pretty as my friend Emma.”
Recently, Bela asked to speak seriously for a minute. She said, “I have something to say, but it will hurt your feelings, Mama.”