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Baby Drops the F-Bomb

No potty mouth for my kids, please...

Little Girl is angelic. Big light blue eyes, blond curls, porcelain skin. Truly, truly angelic. Tonight, that little angel behaved like a devil, dropping not one but THREE f-bombs.

We were having dinner. I’m coaxing her to sit still and face the table. She was ignoring me. I gave her a final warning: “Turn around or you will not sleep in a big girl bed tonight.” Turning around to face me, my little girl looked straight at me and said, “Eff, eff, eff no!” (She said the real words. I am cleaning it up so people can still Stumble and Digg this post!)

Time seemed to freeze for a second. Then Big Girl looked at me and looked at her sister, speaking for both of us when she said, “Mommy, oh my gosh, Mommy, she said a BAD word.” Little Girl, who at this point was extremely proud of herself, beamed a little brighter. Not thinking, really, I picked her up and brought her into the bathroom intent on washing her mouth out with soap. Once I got there, I decided against it. It’s organic, but who knows if it’s safe to ingest? So I went the opposite route, plopping down on the kitchen floor, pulling Little Girl into my lap, and sprinkling a few black pepper grinds on her tongue.

“You do not say naughty words like that. That is NOT acceptable. Maybe next time you want to say a naughty word you will remember what this pepper tastes like,” I said. (Editorial note: It was only a few flecks. Just enough to scare her a bit.) Then I put her on a time out. Little Girl screamed and cried, telling me the pepper tasted “yucky.”

Big Girl, to her credit, was very upset about the entire thing. She was actually close to crying, begging me not to make her sister taste pepper, as I held the grinder, and afterward telling Little Girl that it was okay and that she would be okay as the time out timer ticked down. In fact, she stood there next to the time out area holding a cup of milk I had poured for Little Girl to guzzle at the end of the two-minutes.

Once Little Girl came off her time out, calmed down, and downed the entire glass of milk, I gave her a hug and told her that she was not allowed to say that word. That Mommy didn’t say that word. She hugged me back, saying she was sorry. Amidst the tears and hugs Big Girl piped up, pointing out that my husband says that word sometimes, and why doesn’t he have his mouth doused with pepper when he says it? Good question, baby…

Anyway, I know there will be some readers who say that my punishment was overkill. That making a toddler taste pepper is too mean. Surprisingly, as someone who is anti-spanking and anti corporal punishment, I disagree. This is one case where the punishment isn’t terrible, and actually works.

For instance, I can vividly remember the taste of Ivory soap from my childhood after having my own mouth washed out several times. One time, I got punished for just writing a curse word (ass, if you must know) when I was about six. Getting my mouth washed out with soap had a profound impact on me, keeping me from swearing until I was in my late teens. In fact, I still don’t swear all that much except the occasional crap here and there, which I blogged about a few months back. Bottom line: If a little pepper now means a lot less salt later in life, I will be a happy camper.

Later in the evening I was driving Big Girl to get dance photos, and we started to talk about what happened. That lead to a discussion about cursing. I used the time to explain that, right or wrong, people who swear a lot are often viewed as less educated. It looks smarter, I told her, if you can come up with other words to convey feelings. Right or wrong, how you speak can have a lot to do with how you are perceived and even how successful you become, I said. I also told her that while I didn’t think there were any bad words, there are some words that just don’t sound nice. I wasn’t sure what effect, if any, my speech would have, so I was blown away when she started sharing a bunch of stories with me. That this one in her class got punished for a week for swearing at her mom, and that one got in trouble on the bus for saying a curse word. Another one got in trouble for swearing in the cafeteria. “Lots of kids I know say curses,” she told me. I was so glad she was talking to me about meaningful things. I was so glad I had the opportunity to explain why we don’t want our girls to talk like sailors. I was so glad when she said she understood.

So now I am sitting here still thinking about the pepper, which didn’t seem to bother Little Girl. She was almost excited to tell my husband about the experience. Still, I wonder what effect tonight will have on Little Girl. Did I use the experience as a teachable moment, or did I make a mistake — even if I do feel okay about it? What do you think?

One Response to “Baby Drops the F-Bomb”

  1. Erin says:

    I had this problem, I guess it was in the Fall. I have (or had) a horrible mouth while driving. I would completely forget that he copies everything I say. Anyway, he started saying the f word quite a bit and I was mortified! I was terrified he would say it at school (thank goodness that never happened). I literally just kept ignoring it and stopped swearing all together. I haven’t heard that word or any other questionable word out of his mouth in 6 months.

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