Saturday, September 20, 2008

Privileges that come with age and maturity

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?
Megan: Yeah...
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.
Megan: Okay!

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!"


miko564 said...

I'm a lurker, never commented before, but we may be soulmates, or long-lost brother and sister. (God imagine being the latter and thinking it was the former? Awkward...)

Anyhoo, bravo to you and the husband. Hate, stupid, and shut-up are all banned here. We always wondered if we were weird (and NOW, I'm a little worried the wife may somehow be related...sigh), and it is great to see we aren't the only ones.

Amelia is about to turn four, and is beginning to ask why other kids can say these things and she can't. I think in a few years I will steal your discussion and use it! (Until then, we will continue to lock her in the closet when she questions us.)

(First comment, but I read you religiously, blame Carolyn, she led me here.)

MammaDawg said...

I absolutely LOVE how you handled this. I think it's the perfect balance and you know what?

I'm gonna STEAL this idea to use with my own kids.

lol - I've got no shame, huh? Hope you don't mind! ;)

Twenty-Something said...

I still remember bragging to my friends on the bus that my mom told me it was okay if I started saying "pain in the neck"... so bad!

Love that discussion, your daughter is very cute!

Ms Picket To You said...

we're decent on the stupid front; the "hate" word though? i've heard it a 100 times in the last 7 days.

which got me thinking: maybe i should watch my mouth a tad more, since i do not actually "hate" traffic or stubbing my toe or meetings. even though i am pretty sure i am overheard saying so.

argh. parenting.

LilSass said...

Despite my current sailor set of vocabulary, these words were also banned in my household growing up. So if nothing else, take me as an example and know your kids are gonna grow up to be potty mouths, so long as they aren't under your roof ;-)

sheila said...

Great post! We're also parents that lump certain words into the never say catagory. We include R***RD also. HATE that word!

When my kids were about 8 or so, they said the word once or twice after hearing it at school. I put them in the car and took them to the grocery store, where there is a bagboy there with Downs.

He was so nice and talkative. (I knew him previously to this visit) the kids and I came out of there and in the car I said, "You know when you use that *R word? That guy is the one that you are making fun of."

Could have heard a pin drop. I've never heard that come out of their mouth again.

Although, now that they are all teens, (God help me), we're going through other issues like tattoos and the word 'flippin', which at this point of exhaustion, I pick my battles.

Good luck and great post!

Jen W said...

@miko564 Hey thanks for stopping by. I read your comments on Carolyn's blog and think you are quite hilarious.

@mammadawg steal away!

@twentysomething- Ha! I remember the first time I used the word bitch in front of my mom and she didn't even flinch. I think I was in 7th grade.

@lilsass & @Ms. P- I know it's an uphill battle, and pretty much futile since she has my potty mouth genes flowing in her. The dam is sure to break at some point!

@sheila- that's a great way to handle that! I'm going to tuck that one away in my back pocket for later.

claude said...

Hey buen dog- your blog is funny girl-You can totally see your personality in your postings-- super cute about megan and the two bad words!! brynne said "frickin" recently- of course becasue its what i had said- we had to have alittle convo about that one- havne't heard it since. --- cute blog - c

Carolyn...Online said...

I banned Stupid a long time ago and it gained all sorts of magical powers in my kids eyes and now they reserve it for when they're really really mad at me.