What is a “bad word”?
When kids are little, this is a question they want answered. On a recent “junking” (think flea market meets not-so-famous, but still American pickers) trip with my daughter-in-‘love’, (because that’s what she is) we talked about this. She shared that her boys had asked and being a down-to-earth, somewhat forthright woman, who had been asked in the morning when her mind was not quite lucid; she told them. She was rattling them off one-by-one at the breakfast table and just about to get to the really juicy ones when our son came into the room and asked what was happening. When she explained, he told her they should probably discuss this and find a different way to ‘share’ before she continued. Personally, I thought her way was very entertaining!
When our own children were young, we came across this question. Cliff was at work and not available for a quick consultation and so, I gave the answer that first popped into my mind. “If you don’t hear Mommy and Daddy say it, it’s a bad word.”
Now, from Daddy’s mouth this was and is true. I’ve only heard him “swear” less than a few times and always as a joke to make me laugh. “Mommy,” however, was a different story. You see, “Mommy’s” very favorite word was ‘c–p’ and she used it often. I didn’t consider this word bad when I considered all the things I could say. I did try to whisper it when the kids were present, which I thought was very commendable of me. But, soon enough they realized that Mommy’s ‘favorite word’ was also classified as a ‘bad word’. And, when they heard me, they called me out on it. On the sage advice of my husband, I changed my favorite word to ‘crumbs’ and on occasion ‘crud’. I was pretty sure there was nothing wrong with either of those. It was a fairly easy transition, but things were about to get complicated.
One night when Eric, our oldest and very thoughtful child, was about six, my sister and her husband were babysitting for us. It began with a documentary about animals. Who knew that a documentary would be our undoing? Who knew that a word like that would be used? Who knew that Mommy and Daddy had never said this word in the hearing of their son? Who knew? Eric knew.
He heard it and immediately informed the adults in the room, who should have already been aware, “That’s a bad word!”
“What’s a bad word?”
“That word.” He didn’t want to say it.
Due to his aunt and uncle being ‘uninformed’ he was forced to tell them.
“Breast. That’s a bad word.”
“Why is that a bad word, Eric?”
“I never heard my Mommy and Daddy say it.”
He was right. Mommy and Daddy were much more refined. They used the word “boobs” instead.
We came home to our children snugly tucked in their beds and my sister and her husband sharing with amusement what had happened that night. Needless to say, Eric woke up with questions the following morning. I am pleased to say, he did finally hear his Mommy and Daddy say the word, “breast”.
Because it’s really not that big a deal.