November 15, 2012

The f-word

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.’”


“No, ‘shit.’”

“What does that mean?”

“It’s poop.”

“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.”

“That’s true.”

“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.

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  • Reply Marste November 15, 2012 at 1:10 am

    I know I’m late to the part on this one, but I just read the previous post and have to say: my mom told me all the bad words. Mostly because I heard them from her, first. 😉 Her line was always along the lines of: “I can use those words because they are adult words. You are not an adult, so you don’t get to use them. When you turn 18 you will be an adult and you can decide whether or not to use them then – but not before.” Worked surprisingly well, actually. I think I’m the only one of the 3 kids who developed a serious swearing habit.

  • Reply Ken November 15, 2012 at 2:23 am

    “Maybe Dante.” cracked me up big time.

  • Reply Melanie November 15, 2012 at 3:20 am

    Another F word… Fantastic 🙂 I remember asking my Mom about the F word and she is so offended by it that she couldnt even say it out loud, she did however write it, however probably thanks to her its the only curse word I’ve only uttered maybe twice.

  • Reply Melanie November 15, 2012 at 3:21 am

    crap, could I add anymore however’s in that post?

  • Reply Bea November 15, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    haha, I love the Elton John comment. I think it’s better to tell kids things straight, otherwise you risk him accidentally using it and offending a stranger or just not knowing, which is worse. knowledge is power baby. My mum never let me or my brother say any of the swear words, even ridiculous things like fart, so I know from experience that it’s better to know what they are and why they are not allowed. Then you’re not sixteen and desperately trying not to say the word fart but there are no other options that aren’t completely humiliating and you can’t really remember what was so bad about the word fart in the first place. Okay, now I can’t even think of a reason why sixteen year old me would be saying the word fart to my friends, but that isn’t the point. Anyway, my mum’s option instead of ‘crud’ was to say ‘bother’. that didn’t work out so well either. I’m sorry, I got totally derailed then by accident. I loved your book by the way, five stars definitely 🙂

  • Reply fiwa November 15, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    I think you did it just right. By being willing to talk about it, you took the power and mystery out of the word, and he’s not even interested. Well done.

  • Reply Rebecca November 16, 2012 at 1:03 am

    Sorry, I meant to tell you not to tell him… I was too late too respond

  • Reply Lilian Nattel November 17, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    I remember my children coming home to tell me they knew the s-word. What is it I asked. They were reluctant to say, but finally confessed that it was the word “stupid.”

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