With four kids, things tend to slide over time. Rules once considered essential become more lax. Daily baths become once every few days. Yearly check ups have six month delays. And the definition of a swear goes from cute to street.
At the beginning, I used to worry a lot about swearing. Hate was a swear word. So was fat. And idiot would earn a swipe of soap on the tongue, or at least the threat of soap. Bella accepted all rules without question, and Jack tolerated them… for a while.
Then came kindergarten, the year of the “BUTT-ler.” For an entire 12 month period, Jack would cry hot tears of laughter by saying the word butler. It seemed like harmless fun, and I’ll admit that it often made me smile, for the first few months at least.
After the year of butler, the swearing rules melted away. Hate. Fat. Jerk. All were added to the family lexicon. Our family was getting older, and no true bad words were in the mix. But then came Sophie, the fourth, the baby, the last child to protect. And swearing became a concern again. The likelihood that she would be kicked out of preschool for saying something really, really, truly horrible was something that kept me up at night. She could be the blacklisted toddler no one invited for playdates.
Fast forward a few years, and Jack is now ten. He is a sporty kid, happiest covered with dust and sweat after a long baseball game. The other night, I went to tuck him in, readjusting his long legs back onto his twin bed and pulling his Northwestern blanket back over his sleeping body. I took an emotional motherly moment and lay my hand on his brow, thinking how peaceful he looked sleeping.
That tender hand stirred him out of a deep sleep, and still groggy, he sat straight up and shouted,
“Holy Sh-t! Holy F*ck! What the hell is going on? “
That’s when I knew I’d lost the swearing battle in our house. For good and forever.