So….up to this point in his life, Jake (my 7 year old) has been extremely obedient. Jake is extremely mindful of rules, and verges on tattle-tailing as he calls each and every member of my house out on any infraction he can witness, (and this does include myself, my husband and our two cats and his brother, just so you know.) Now, don’t get me wrong, I find his honesty completely refreshing in a world of tiny white lies and seemingly innocently forgotten details. And really, Jake will do his best to push his limits within the rules. He will refuse to go to bed until he has watched a television program and then the corresponding commercials until he has squeezed every last minute out of his allowed awake time of a day. And on the rare occasion he does break the laid out rules, he usually volunteers the truth about what he has done, he always apologizes and he works his hardest to deter whatever consequence he is about to incur. (Generally, this means that he makes his little brother the happiest little dude in the world, in return for winning back his video gaming privilege.)
Interestingly, Jake even does a nice job following rules that we have not specifically laid down. Specifically, Jake knows that he is not allowed to “swear”, even though we have never specifically discussed which words would qualify as “swear” words. We have made no formal list of words that are offensive. We have laid out that hurtful words, such as “I hate you.”, “You’re stupid!” or “Shut up!” are completely unacceptable in this household. But truth be told, I have very little desire to police the actual words which roll off of his tongue. I am more interested in the intentions of his words.
The first real confrontation we’ve had about using appropriate words took place when Jake was in Kindergarten. (Other than using ‘bathroom words’ outside of the bathroom, but really… if you have a husband, 2 sons and 2 male cats, you should probably just get used to the idea that “poop” and “balls” are going to be tossed around frequently and just try to let it make you giggle. This is a fight you just aren’t going to win.) Jake’s teacher had pulled me aside to discuss his inappropriate classroom language. Apparently, his class was making cardboard instruments and forming a rockband (The Flame Rockband, I believe) as part of a class project. Jake and his friend Mylie were to be the lead singers… and he told Mylie, while dancing mind you, to “shake [her] booty.” I failed to see how this was an issue. Clearly my (at that time) 5 year old had no sexual implications, because he hadn’t even asked me to define the difference between a boy and girl at that point. (See previous blog for that fantastic experience…http://sunmoonbrothers.blogspot.com/2010/07/keep-your-birds-out-of-my-bees-knees.html) Apparently though, referring to one’s booty rather than their “bottom” was not appropriate in a Kindergarten setting. I somehow doubt he literally wanted her to wave her derrière, but I did ask Jake to please not say things his teacher has asked him not to say. He agreed and we went on our way.
Again, Jake’s teacher called me to school that year, regarding Jake’s inappropriate language. This time, Jake had been recreating a Lego Batman game that many of his friends were playing. (Weird, I know, but they all seem to do it….) He was playing the role of the Joker, who had “the kiss of death” power, and he would have to kiss all the penguins so they would die and he would advance to the next level of the game. (Again, I know. But he seriously had 8 or so friends all playing right along, so….) And again, I failed to understand completely what the problem here really was.
“So, Jake was killing penguins and that is inappropriate?”
No, that was fine.
“So, Jake was the villain and that was not tolerable?”
No, every story needs a villain. That was fine also.
“Recess isn’t video game time?”
Oh, no, apparently every child plays pretend video games outside.
“Okay, help me out here… I’m out of ideas…”
It was explained to me that Jake was pretending to KISS someone or something, which could potentiate a situation where children would begin kissing, which could lead to other topics of conversation. As I sat there in complete disbelief, Jake busts out with: “So, if kissing is a bad word, then is marriage the worst word EVER!” Once I regained the ability to breath without laughing so hard I snorted, I explained to his teacher, as politely as I could that my definition of swear words were words used with the intent to be vulgar or the intent to hurt someone. Even the most sophisticated words, if spoken with malice are not acceptable to me. Likewise, I do not think that slipping the occasional profanity can be all that damaging unless the words were pointed to be mean. (Though I do think that there are more intelligent ways of saying what you mean, for certain.) Having said all this, though, it is important to me that Jake makes attempts to follow rules, despite this difference of opinion, and I asked Jake again not to continue kissing imaginary penguins.
But recently, Jake has started to slide a little profanity into his vocabulary. He has on occasion asked me, “Mom, may I say something inappropriate?” To which I would give him a cautionary look and tell him to proceed. And generally, his next sentence will sound something along these lines: “So, at school, Bob said @$$. And I didn’t want to tell you because I didn’t want to repeat the word @$$ because @$$ is a bad word I know you wouldn’t want me to say @$$. @$$!!!” Then he will try to justify that he had asked permission to say it, and I will try to remind him he slipped the word in 5 or so times unnecessarily…
And any other random chance Jake can find, he will work profanity into his vocabulary legally. Some friends of mine own a video gaming business and have released some video games. Among the more notable things they have accomplished, they created the video game to compliment the Hollywood movie, “KickAss”. Being supportive of our friends, we downloaded this game onto our PS3. When Jake took notice of the download, he immediately rushed to me to make sure I knew that Dad had downloaded “KICKASS” and so he had to say the word “KICKASS” out loud. Each and every time he is selecting a game to play, he will be sure to mention his favorite game which he is not allowed to play. But he knows that I will tolerate this because he is being clever in his verbiage. It reminds me of how a person might wait all day long to say a word they learned from a “Word-a-day” Calender just so they could slip it in a sentence. It’s very amusing.
So now I am trying to be ever vigilant in allowing Jake to speak freely, and I just keep reminding him to be easy on the swears…