I find it fascinating that not one of you thought it might be even a little inappropriate for me to sit my eight year old down and say, “Sweetie, the f-word is fuck. That’s a c and a k.” Here’s how the conversation rolled out.
“A curse is an adult word that can be inappropriate in some settings.”
“Not a curse. A swear.” Because a curse is something someone puts on Draco Malfoy or Percy Jackson, I guess.
“Right. A swear. I can tell you some of those words, but I really don’t want you to teach them to your brother or mock him for not knowing them. Do you understand?” He nodded. “So, do you know the word ‘damn’?”
“You mean like to dam up water?”
“Well, yes, but it can also be used as a swear when someone’s frustrated. And the h-word is ‘hell.’”
“That makes sense,” he replied, familiar with hell from some reading or another. Maybe Dante.
“And the s-word is ‘shit.’”
“What does that mean?”
“Why is that a swear?” he asked.
“Well, it’s a particularly rude word for poop. Which is why some people call it ‘the s-word.’”
“That doesn’t make sense. Because, for example, there are a lot of words that start with F.”
“Right. Like flamboyant,” I replied.
“No, I mean swears. Like fart.”
“What does flamboyant mean?”
So, fair readers, I got out of teaching my third grader fuck, at least for another day. Added bonus: should he ever need to describe early Elton John, he now knows the perfect word.