Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Dirty Talk

Sabine is suddenly copying almost everything I do. I'm walking around with a living, breathing mirror that displays my best and worst habits.

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

1 comment:

Leslie said...

I love your take on the bad word thing. So true! Why do we stress about it so much? Puts it in perspective.
And yes, the imitating gets more horrific. My 7yr old has many of my bad habits and it's very weird having this mirror being reflected back at me. It forces me to try and be a better person and example for my kids and everyone around me.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...