Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Growing and Swearing

T has entered a period of incredibly rapid development.  Obviously during the first few years every stage is one of rapid development, but this current phase seems even more accelerated because his comprehension of language along with his fine and gross motor skills are growing by leaps and bounds simultaneously.  My little baby, who I swear five minutes ago couldn’t even hold up his own head, is understanding and responding to us, he is taking a few steps, he is doing some talking-it is unbelievably exciting.  And frustrating.  For all of us.  His mind is racing ahead of what his body can achieve.  So the tantrums and testing have begun. 

He understands that he isn’t supposed to do certain things.  Of course that means he loves to do them.  He particularly loves to make sure we are watching as he does them.  He knows he shouldn’t touch the cord to daddy’s computer?  As he approaches said cord he pauses and turns to make sure he has our full attention; only then does he grab it.  He understands cause and effect, but he can’t understand why it doesn’t always work for him.  His toy truck gets stuck under the sofa and he can’t wrench it out even though he understands the movement he is making is the same one I will eventually make to free it? His meltdown is so epic you’d think he had suffered a grave injury.  

The flip side is I have never experienced anything as cool as when he makes one of these complex developmental leaps.  If you quack at him he says duck.  If his electronic toy drum stops playing music he will causally reach over and hit it so the song starts over and then return to play with whatever is in his hand.  If he hears a dog barking outside he’ll look at us and say “Dog”.   He wants to press the button to turn off his white noise machine after naps.  He shakes his head “No” when he doesn’t want something.  When you start singing Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes to him he grabs his head.  He has figured out how to get past the safety lock on the bathroom cupboard.  OK, that one isn’t cool, but it is rather impressive.

I could go on and on about the new things he is doing, but frankly I know it is pretty mind numbing if you aren’t his parent.  The previous paragraph would have bored the shit out of me a very short time ago.  If I’m honest it would bore the shit out of me now if it was about any kid but my own.  Part of the reason you can’t understand the wonder of parenthood until you experience it is because it is fucking annoying unless it is happening to you. 

When I was an early teen I remember listening to Ride the Lightening on my walkman at full volume.  And I remember thinking how people said you grew out of that kind of music, but I swore it would never ever happen to me.  Um, yes.  Yes it did.  Over and over again in many situations it did.  Yet every time someone older and wiser told me how I would feel at a later point in my life I would dismiss them.  Probably because it is was hard to accept I am predictable rather than a fascinating enigma to others, but there you have it. 

During my pregnancy I was worried about what others would think of me swearing around my child to be.  Z and I love to swear.  It is very juvenile, and rather lazy in terms of descriptive use of language, but we pepper our conversation (or blog posts) with all the cursing standards.  I was sure T’s first word would be fuck.  Actually it was duck, so I was pretty close.  I worried what other people would think about the fact that Z and I didn’t curb our language around our son, but I didn’t give a crap that he would be hearing the language himself. 

Then a couple of weeks ago I really started to notice when Z swore in front of T.  And I really started to dislike it.  It was like a switch went off inside me and I suddenly couldn’t bear the idea of T thinking that swearing was normal and OK for him as a child.  And I started to nag Z about it.  He pointed out that I wasn’t modifying my language around T.  And it was true.  Somehow it was OK if I swore, but if Z did I would jump all over him.  So I’ve been making a huge effort to cut it out.  Z is making less of an effort, but I’m working on him. 

The timing of my inevitable, but still surprising to me, change of heart makes sense.  He is starting to mimic what we say.  Suddenly the idea of a toddler saying fuck, which was so very humorous to me in the recent past, seems awful.  The bad news is I’m learning for the hundredth time that I’ve become exactly what people have said I would.  The good news is what I’ve become is a little bit less of an asshole. 

He's holding a bee from his mobile and saying "Bzzzz"


  1. I seriously think we're cosmicly linked. Sophie's first word was "duck" as well. I'm probably like Zeke in this one - trying, but it's HARD. I'm waiting for John to break out the cliche quarter jar. A couple weeks ago, Soph looked out the back door and jubilantly exclaimed, "Oh SHIT! It's raining!" It was that awful blend of hilarious and horrifying - I knew I needed to correct the situation but I was dying inside of the giggles.

    We have some friends that swear like CRAZY in front of their kids and the kids don't use bad language at all - even the 2 year old. It completely dumbfounds me.

  2. I swear a little bit. I remember when DH got laid off and was telling me he thought "Oh, shit." and the little girl (1 1/2 at the time) walked around saying, "Oh, shit, oh, shit, oh, shit." I didn't react and told her to say "Oh, no, oh, no" instead and she did.

    The most recent (heard from an older cousin) was "Damn it, Max!" when her brother spilled something of hers. That one got her time in the corner. I know in the big realm of things, "Damn" is nothing, but I still don't need her saying it. She's already vicious with her "I hate you" and "I don't love you" when she's really angry.

  3. so true... I will never forget when Thomas was four and we took him too see the construction going on inside our new house - Thomas, in his Daddy's arms looked around in awe of the rubble and trash - etc and said slowly and deliberately, "Holy Shit!"

  4. God that's a cute baby. Looks almost exactly like mine--I am very partial to fuzzy-headed bald babies who talk a lot.

    When my younger son was not quite two, and so sweet and delicious he practically had a halo full time, my mother, who was visiting, had to lean down to hear something he mumbled while playing at her feet. "What's that, my love?" she asked? To which he answered, without looking up, "I SAID, Move your fucking toe."

  5. Kristen, I still think it is a damn shame we squandered the chance to be friends back in high school. Who knows? Maybe we'll live in the same town at another point in life. Stranger things have happened.

  6. "Part of the reason you can’t understand the wonder of parenthood until you experience it is because it is fucking annoying unless it is happening to you."
    also - totally not bored by t's progress reports...promise.
    hooray talking babies! my little was in his toy car the other day and backed it into the porch. as he tried to get out to assess the damage and trade insurance info with the house, the door got stuck. he wrestled with it for a minute and then said, under his breath, "oh, fuck!"
    that's my boy.
    my sister's policy with her little is to not make a big deal outta swear words and, if they get used by the kiddo, gently explain that they're for Inside The House ONLY. my feeling is the reaction to the word being said is 100x more important than the actual saying of the word. hope yer well.