I first realized she was doing this one morning as we stood side by side brushing our teeth in the bathroom. Sabine moved the brush across her teeth like I did. Then touched her hair the same way I did. When I spit toothpaste into the sink, she leaned over her toes--and spit on the bathroom floor.
She shrugs her shoulders like I do; points her finger when she's mad in the same way; and walks around the house in my shoes and with my bras and t-shirts wrapped around her neck (that's her idea of wearing them since she's still learning to dress).
Lately, too, she's been chucking her toys down the stairs. I couldn't figure out why she was doing this. Does she like to watch them bounce or fall? Then, I caught myself throwing items to the bottom of the stairs so I could put them away on the ground level all at once vs. having to make multiple trips up and down the staircase (some may call this lazy; I call it efficient).
And finally, yesterday, I was in the kitchen when I heard Sabine saying, "shiii, shii" over and over again. For the life of me, I could not figure out what she was trying to say. And then I realized I'd just said, "shit" when I dropped a pot on the floor. Fantastic, I thought. Now I've taught my kid how to swear.
I felt horrible at first that she'd learned this from me. Why can't I react like a civilized adult as opposed to a mad sailor? I do not want Sabine shouting "shit!" in public when she drops her juice cup (although I'd be a little impressed that she'd used the word appropriately). What will people think?
But then I thought, who cares what people think? Sabine is probably not going to grow up yelling out profanities everywhere she goes. The bigger deal I make over certain words, the more she will want to say them. If I let it go, so will she. When I was in second grade, I once yelled "damn," after which I was promptly rushed to the bathroom by my father, who washed my mouth out with soap. And dammit, do you see how well that worked? Now, I have the crappiest, most curse-filled vocabulary on the block.
And anyway, there's no real meaning behind a swear word--it's a visceral reaction, an emotional expression. I'd be a hundred times more horrified if Sabine were calling someone a name or exhibiting malicious, bullying, shitty person behavior. My goal is to teach this peanut how to be kind, empathetic, open-hearted, generous, loving, fearless, confident, happy and wise. And speaking of wisdom, something tells me that in terms of a big picture perspective, "shit" isn't such a huge deal and isn't going to hurt anyone--not even a little bit.
I'm not saying I think it's okay to purposefully spew dirty words around your two year old. I don't. I just think if I accidentally utter a naughty word here and there, I should go ahead and let "shit" go--and save my anxieties for bigger things like fear of abduction, general safety, her first boyfriend, intimacy and pregnancy, and if she keeps up the taking-after-mom bit, experimentation and flirting with disaster in an I'm-invincible kind of way that would shake any parent to their very core.
|Image via Observando|