Thursday, November 19, 2009

Words: When Children Learn Words They Ought Not to Know

"Mom," the conversation began, as oh so many do these days. I can tell from the tone of Brendan's voice that he has something important to tell me.

Usually when a conversation begins this way, it involves the newest cool trick he has learned in Lego Star Wars for the Wii
or some super-awesome-fantastically amazing-so-great-it-must-be-bought-today Star Wars toy.But not this time.

Now, let's pause for a moment... I bet you're thinking that whatever was coming my way was something that I was utterly unprepared for. And any other day besides today, you would have been right. I so did not see this coming. But thanks to fate, luck, the perfect alignment of just the right celestial bodies, and my super-awesome-fantastically amazing-so-great-I-don't-know-what-I'd-do-without-him husband, I was ready.

So, the conversation continued, "Mom, some of the kids at school told me and Peter that there's a word called fuck and that it's a bad word. But I don't believe them because I've never heard that word before. Peter didn't believe them either."

I must have stood staring at him for a full 10 seconds, mouth agape, completely in shock. In shock, not because my angelic-looking six-year old just dropped the f-bomb, a word, by the way, that I didn't learn until I was in fifth grade (Thanks, Renee, for corrupting me!). Well, at least not entirely because of that, because honestly, it was pretty shocking.

No, I was in shock that he'd never heard it. While my husband is someone always in control of the what he speaks, an artist and master of language who doles out his words carefully, with the precision of a Vegas dealer and rarely utters a cuss word unless it is demanded by the situation, I have the mouth of a sailor. More or less. Well, at least I did until Brendan came along.

Then, I took great pains to dial it back. I had no idea how successful I had been because I have only been aware of the times when I've missed the (effing) mark. Like the time we were watching The Simpsons and Homer yells "Dammit!*" And Brendan, in a burst of glee and triumph shouts, "Mom! That's what you always say!"

My daze of shock and awe over Brendan's discovery of this new verbal device was cut short as he pulled me back to the moment with his persistent questioning. "Well is it?"

"What?," I responded.

He gives me an exasperated sigh and hand gestures that demand my attention as he asks me again, "Is fuck a real word?"

And so, there I was, in the middle of the kitchen having one of those real-life teaching moments with my son, thinking, "I am so NOT ready for this. Not ready for my baby to be learning such bad words and who are these bad children who are teaching him this?" when I realized that I was ready.

Instantly, I flashed back to the evening before when Scott and I were sitting in bed and he read me this article. Can you believe that? Less than 24 hours earlier, my husband reads to me a random, but very funny and insightful, article from a dad dealing with exactly the same situation I found myself in? What kind of awesome luck is that?

So, I turned to Brendan and said, "Yes, honey, that is a real word. And it's the worst word you can possibly say. There is no word worse than that one and I hope that you'll choose never to say it to anyone. And by the way, who told you about it?"

He looked at me as if he had just learned the coolest thing in the world, saying, "Wow. I didn't know. I'm sorry I said it and I won't say it again," which I guess, is about the best you can hope for in that situation. I'm sure it will come up again. I just hope I'm lucky enough to have read someone else's witty response to their child the night before so I'll be prepared when it does.

*For some reason the bastardization of "damn it" to "dammit" bothers me. A lot. But when I hear Homer saying that line, I believe he's actually saying "Dammit!". So, that's what you get folks. Even if, technically, it's wrong.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Come Together: Help for Anissa Mayhew

In the span of less than 24 hours I've heard two horrible, heartbreaking stories that make me want to squeeze my husband and babies and hold them and not let them out of my sight.

First, last night I read about a fellow blogger and Twitter Mom, Anissa Mayhew, who had a massive stroke yesterday afternoon. Anissa is a very popular blogger and has three children. Her youngest, daughter Peyton, just celebrated one-year of being cancer free after fighting leukemia since she was 2 years old. How much can one family bear? And why should they have to bear so much. I find this especially horrifying for some reason. I don't know Anissa, but I feel for her as a fellow mother. I know how much I love my husband and my children and the idea of being yanked away from them in this manner is gut-wrenching. I feel so sad for Anissa, her husband, and her babies.

Then, this morning, I heard from another friend about one of her neighbors whose daughter was stillborn at 39 weeks just a few days ago. The baby's umbilical cord became knotted and she died.

It breaks my heart. All this loss and suffering and sorrow. I don't understand it. And I hate it. And to be honest, it all just shakes my faith a little too much.

I won't stop praying, though. I can't. Because it feels like the only thing any of us can do. I know that's not entirely true.

In fact, there is something we can do to help Anissa's family. If you are in the Atlanta area, or if you want to send a gift card to a restaurant, Blockbuster, or something that can help keep her kids occupied and entertained, you can go here for information on how to help.