This morning I was helping Megan to get set up with a television show of her choosing. I stopped on a channel and looked over at Megan for approval on the channel selection. "No," she said. "That show is stupid." Even now she says stupid tentatively, almost in a whisper. I guess it takes time to unbreak a habit, even when you have parental approval to do so.
You see, up until about a week ago, in our house the words "stupid" and "hate" were thrown in the same category of words as sh!t or he!! or F*$k. So taboo were these words in our house that when Megan would hear them from others, our little rule follower's mouth would gape open and at times she'd look like you just hit her upside the head with a wooden stick. "Grandma!!!" or "Aunt Lori!!!" she would lament if by accident hate or stupid accidentally slipped from their mouths. (Which by the way, I realize this rule is totally hypocritical, since I have been known to spout more than my fair share of profanity.)
But last week, Megan and I had a heart to heart discussion about this rule.
Megan: Why can't I say those words? Everyone else can.
Me: Because I don't think those words sound very nice and you can think of something better to say.
Megan: But all my friends say it and it's weird that I can't say it and I have to say things like, "I don't like that." Besides, I would never say it to someone. Like, I would never say, "I think you are 'S'" or "I 'H' you."
Me: Well Megan, I think we can talk about this because you seem to understand when it is appropriate to use those words. For instance, you know how when you are in a group of friends and no adults are around, you probably say things that you might not say when adults are around?
Me: It's the same way with those words. As long as you understand and make good choices about when to use those words, I think you are old enough now to be able to make that choice.
Megan: So I can say them???
Me: Let's set some ground rules. You know never to say those words around adults because it's not respectful, right?
Megan: Yeah, and like, I would never say it to someone because that would be mean.
Me: Exactly. And I'd prefer that you not say those words around Jack.
Megan: Right. Because he's not old enough to know the difference?
Me: True. So I think you understand so I'm not too concerned if you use those words under those circumstances.
Megan: So I can say them????
Me: Well, we'll check with your dad to make sure he agrees but if he does, then yes.
So we checked the next day with Jay and he agreed, and readdressed the ground rules of using the words stupid and hate. And thus, Megan added two new words to her vocabulary.
When she came home the next day from school. I joked, "So how did your day go? Did you use any of your new words?" Megan nodded vigorously and said, "Oh yeah! At recess I said hate like, five times!"