One of my good friends recently told me how she’d asked her 8-year-old son all the cuss words he knows. I wondered what would happen if I asked my daughter the same question. I mean, I don’t swear. Most of her friends are girls she knows from cheer and they don’t seem like sailors to me. Would she even know what the term “swear word” means?
Only one way to find out.
“What are some bad words you know?” I asked her one morning while we were in the kitchen. I fully expected her to ask me what I meant and say she didn’t know what I was talking about. Instead she started rattling off a list.
“Oh, bastard, son of a… Whore?”
I held back my laughter. This is the first few lines of about five songs on the Hamilton soundtrack. I’ll sing it, but remind her that those aren’t nice words.
“Ok, what else?” I asked. Now I was amused.
Yep, that’s a word we don’t like to use.
Ok. That’s not so bad. Though I didn’t realize she remembered so much from my homeschool with Hamilton lessons (and to my credit, the rest of the soundtrack is edited and totally censored) she hadn’t picked up any others from external sources or friends yet.
Fast forward to a few nights ago. After cheer practice my daughter confided in me.
“Mom, what’s the ‘C’ word?”
I wasn’t drinking anything, but if I had been, I woulda spit it out. Just like in the movies. I was actually at my desk working but I turned around. She’d immediately caught my attention. And let’s face it, these are the moments I live for. Though I’ll admit I’m never as good at handling them as I imagine in my mind; I dream of being the mom my kids can come to with sincere questions, for honest answers.
But how do you explain “The C word” to a 7-year-old?
I decided to find out more.
“Can you describe the context? How did it come up? How were they saying it?” I asked.
“They were just saying ‘Oh the ‘B’ word’ ‘The ‘F’ word’ ‘the ‘S’ word’ ‘the ‘C” word.”
No matter how many times I asked her for more clarification it was clear the girls weren’t saying the words, but the abbreviations. Why and how this was coming up during sports practice I’m not sure but this wasn’t the time for reprimanding talks.
She’d already told me she knew the F word was “fire” because she’d learned that in a Percy Jackson book. Bless my sweet child’s heart.
“Well the C word…” I started. Trying to think of how to phrase it. A not nice–no, an EXTREMELY vulgar word some people use to describe women they don’t like? But my daughter interrupted me before I could finish.
“Oh I know!” She said. “It’s can’t” She said the word in a more hushed tone. “We aren’t suppose to say we can’t do something.”
Hallelujah, praise Jesus, praise dancing, YASSS!
Let’s go with that.
My eyes welled with tears and my heart swelled with pride.
“Yes baby, can’t isn’t a good word to use. I don’t want you to say you can’t do something.”
Her cheer coaches have the same philosophy.
Later, while retelling this story to a friend who is also a 5th grade teacher it occurred to me the “C” word the girls were referring to was likely “crap,” not the word my mind jumped to (which is a relief cause I only learned that word in my adulthood, I had no idea why 9-year-old girls would know that). But it was a good lesson for me in being ready for these types of conversations and realizing I’m not always going to be her main source of information.
For the last two years we’ve been homeschooling and together almost 24 hours a day every day. She spends more time with her brother than any of her other friends. This next school year she’ll be reemerging into public school and have to navigate new friendships. To be honest I have a lot of anxiety around this. My daughter is the nicest kid I know. She’s so caring and sincere and compassionate. And for heaven’s sakes she thinks the ‘F’ word is fire.
I have this irrational fear that letting her loose into a classroom full of kids with all different life experiences and values for 7 hours a day 5 days a week will completely change her.
I’ve made it a point to talk about friendships more often, lately. I ask her what she thinks makes a good friend, what would be a “deal breaker” for a friendship. And I ask what she’s excited about with her new class, and what she’s worried about. We also talk about what it means to stay true to yourself, and the importance of making good choices. Her answers have been eye opening. And a bit encouraging too.
It’s scary, but there’s help out there for us too. Parents can visit #TalkEarly as a helpful resource for more helpful information on having open and honest conversations with our kids early and often.
As parents it’s so important for our kids to know we’re here for them. I want her to know my door is always open, for any question, anytime, and I’ll always try my best to give her my honest (age appropriate) response.
Cherish 365 is a proud #TalkEarly partner. Though they sponsored today’s blog post, as usual, the story and all opinions are my own.