When Your Kids Accidentally Say Something Filthy

One time, when I was learning Arabic in the Army, I said something incredibly vulgar and insulting to my Egyptian professor.

wasfy.jpg
No dictionaries for you!

His name was Wasfy and we all really liked him. Short, round, and prone to making wild arm gestures, Wasfy reminded us of some Middle-Eastern prince’s distant cousin with a Napoleonic complex. Imagine Lewis Black with a deeper tan.

I hadn’t meant the obscenity, but he’d asked me a question in Arabic and I’d answered him with what would’ve clearly been throw-down words in Egypt, judging by the way his eyes bugged out and the cartoon-purple shade of his face. Frozen by his sudden ferocity, I stared back in utter shock, my heart pounding all the way to my ears.

The room went silent.

He glared at me for a few seconds before softening his eyes. His normal color returned as he took a deep breath. You could see his mind working through the situation: Okay, she didn’t say it on purpose… there’s NO WAY she could’ve known that…

Twenty arms in camouflage immediately darted toward their English-Arabic dictionaries as Wasfy quickly insisted “No no no no,” put his hand on my neighbor’s book and gently pressed it back down onto the desk. Wasfy paused for a moment before softly reconjugating my verbs then resuming the day’s lesson as if I hadn’t just said what I’d said.

Of course, the moment he left, we all scrambled to figure out exactly what I’d told him and I believe we did, though I’m not planning on repeating it here. It was pretty rude.

To this day, I’m surprised by our instructors’ reluctance to teach us anything vulgar in the Arabic language, considering I was an interrogator who was bound to hear it at some point.

And to this day, I’m reminded how easy it is to make a misstep in a foreign language. Languages are so complex. It takes years of experience to understand all the little nuances in all the different contexts of putting together words.

So now I try to be sympathetic when watching my kids stumble through the English language. It’s all new to them… so many words, so many shades of meaning. It’s just a matter of time before they stumble into something inappropriate.

And when they do, parents learn to not make a big deal out of it. Because the kids won’t think about it too much unless you start freaking out. Still, it’s tough sometimes to figure out how to act casual about something you really hope your kids won’t repeat.

Like the other day, when Brontë renamed her octopus.

IMG_3991At the moment, my four-year-old daughter is really into 1) naming stuffed animals, and 2) talking about whether someone is a boy or girl.

Her little sister Bridget got an orange stuffed-animal octopus from Disneyland. It’s Hank, from Finding Dory, who is, by the way, a pretty cool character. Well, Brontë was playing with Hank the other day when we had the following dialogue:

Me: You have Hank the Octopus!

Brontë: No, his name isn’t “Hank.”

Me: What is it?

Brontë: He has lots of legs with bumps on them.

Me: Yes, tentacles.

Brontë: Tinter-coles? They look like bumps and horns.

Me: They do!

Brontë: His name is “Horny.”

Me: Umm…

Brontë: He a boy, just like the movie. Horny is his name.”Horny the Boy.”

Me (trying hard to keep my face neutral): I really, really think his name is Hank.

18 Comments

    1. Thanks! That’s amazing that your daughter never said anything bad–I figured all kids did it, sooner or later. Just rhyming or repeating stuff…

      Maybe it’s the sheer volume of words my kid uses, haha. She literally talks from the moment she wakes up until the moment she goes to sleep. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Kids as they get just a little older will pick up swears only because whether in a car or with tool in hand, the parent, uses said expletive in a very dramatic fashion. It is the tone and dramatic usage that catches their attention. Even if you don’t swear much it doesn’t take much for the little ones to copy the dramatic behavior they see. Soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It has happened since you left the comment! My daughter yelled the S word when her baby sister went number two in the shower.

      I told her it was a grown-up word and she said “daddy says it!” I told her that dad is allowed to say it because he’s a grownup… we’ll see if that flies 🙂

      Like

  2. I love the innocence of children, they say exactly what’s in their heads at all times. ‘Mummy that lady’s got a very big bum’ was my favourite closely followed by ‘why is she buying so much chocolate’, pointing at her shopping cart.

    I’m not sure I can recall any accidental obscenities though, except for the one time my seven year old announced he was going for a p*ss. He had clearly spent too much time with grandad!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, that’s so true! They point things out all the time, with no regard for how it comes off. It’s mortifying and hilarious at the same time.

      It would be hard not to laugh when a seven year old announces he’s going for a p*ss, in proper context. You don’t want to encourage it, but it’s so, so funny 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Given the last 3 letters of Octopus, I was convinced Bronte’s nickname was going to go a whole other way! Hers is still along the same idea though 🙂

    What do you even say in that situation?? You don’t want them repeating the word in front of others, but any correction is likely to get them curious. Sounds like a parenting conundrum.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, I see where you’re going with that, but kids surprise you. Like how you’ll think a room is baby-proofed, then kids will come up with novel ways to injure themselves (hmm, what if I crawl up this bookcase?)

      It can be a tough call because you don’t want to clue them in that they just said something powerful or attention-grabbing. I’m also reluctant to make my girls afraid of playing with language, as if it’s full of hidden minefields that can get you into trouble.

      I guess my strategy has been to treat it casually (trying not to laugh) and then correct it if it gets repeated later

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, good point about kids thinking differently. Bookcases as weapons are well-known in my family. My cousin crawled up one as a 2-yr-old and wound up breaking her leg, though the cast didn’t slow her down from terrorizing other things haha.

        It must be so tough not to laugh in that situation, especially when they use the word correctly and with enthusiasm. Sounds like you did the right thing though!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. They amaze you in their creativity. It’s almost as if kids are in a contest to find the grossest or most dangerous potential in every room (like flipping shower drains and eating whatever they can dig out, EWW!).

          It IS. I press my lips together hard and take a deep breath. I bet my kids recognize that look as “mommy is pretending she doesn’t think this is funny” though 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          1. It’s hard to imagine that we did those gross things too at one time. I don’t remember doing that many weird things, but I know for certain I ate a blade of grass just to see what it’d taste like. And I wasn’t a baby – we’re talking 4-5 years old lol.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Sometimes I’m amazed humans have managed to exist this long as a species after seeing how babies act, lol

              Just, I mean, dogs won’t play with their own poo or taste it or try to fling themselves off second stories. Kids? Not so much 🙂

              It must be the perils of having creative brains that think outside the instinct box. That’s all j can imagine…

              Haha, grass is not bad at all. The things my babies have eaten… *shiver*

              Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s