Part 2: How Random Daughter Began to Curse

September 9, 2008


At about the age of four, Random Daughter, a very bright and attentive child, began to listen closely to her parents’ use of bad words. My wife took a year off from work to be with her young child, taking RD out of her pre-school at the time, so exposing innocent fellow pre-school fellow students was not a concern on our mind.My daughter put four and four together and concluded: When Mommy and Daddy get upset, these are some of the words they use. Children imitate adults, so one day as she was frustrated with some childish activity, perhaps trying to get a recalcitrant dress on a recalcitrant dolly—I don’t remember the exact irritation—-in any case, out of our daughter’s mouth, clear as a bell, issued the famous phrase: God fucking damn it!


What did RD’s very bad Mommy and very bad Daddy do, you very well might ask?


We cracked up. RD decided she had cracked one of the basic codes of adult communication. Of course, only one of the words was exactly four letters, but she was only four years old and still learning her arithmetic.
However, as the age of five was reached and entry into kindergarten approached, RD’s depraved parents remembered their parental responsibilities.
We had a serious talk with RD. We explained to her:
There are certain words that upset some people. Obviously, we don’t mind if you use them at home [even at four she had a sharp eye for hypocrisy and would not have tolerated our saying these words and forbidding her to do so] but if you use them outside the home, some people will get upset. So please don’t say words like fuck and shit at kindergarten or around grandmother.

Five-year-old RD, a quasi-genius among her cohort, told us she understood and would comply. Her teacher, Mr. Morasch, (it seemed wonderfully avant garde to us that her public school had a male kindergarten teacher) only had one mild criticism of Random Daughter. Her language was fine, but she was a little bossy with the other children he reported at the parent-teacher conference. But that was probably only to be expected for a child who was already reading when she entered kindergarten and knew how to behave herself and follow rules, even when they were rather silly. And no, she wasn’t reading Lady Chatterley’s Lover or Tropic of Cancer at the age of five.

To this day, if anyone in our family is frustrated, they merely need to say, “GFD” and everyone else chuckles.








12 Responses to “Part 2: How Random Daughter Began to Curse”

  1. David Says:

    This is classic: So please don’t say words like fuck and shit at kindergarten or around grandmother.

    On an unrelated but kind of related note, about gender bias … I wonder if anyone, in parent teacher conferences, ever criticizes little boys who are assertive for being “bossy.” Seems to me that things recognized as leadership qualities in boys are looked on as negative qualities in girls.

  2. modestypress Says:

    David, I think your point is quite appropriate and relevant. I think Mommy, as a teacher, seems to have a good grasp of this issue. One of her criticisms of RG’s last pre-school was that it constantly put time-outs on the boys for being too “boisterous” so to speak, when good supervision would have let them get their ya yas out in a harmless manner. Eventually, RG was sent to timeout as well, for perhaps being a little too aggressive (i.e., “boylike”).

    It’s threading a needle in raising a child to let them be sufficiently and appropriately assertive and boisterous without being aggressive and mean.

  3. I dunno, Mr. R … I think it’s not too hard to tell when a kid is just letting off excess energy as opposed to targeting or harassing or being mean to other kids. Maybe it’s just not hard for me personally to tell. 🙂 Maybe I should teach preschool. (What am I saying????)

  4. From what I can remember of early childhood, most bossy little girls are far more formidable than most bossy little boys. Probably because of being somewhat more socially intelligent, they are much better at knowing how to boss. I have been pondering child/adult double standards lately. Also, hypocrisy.

  5. In a second part to that comment … the whole “bossy” thing is really interesting to me, as it is a word frequently applied to assertive little girls. Why can’t we say what is actually more true, such as: “Sue has a very strong personality, and doesn’t yet have the skills to recognize when that is overwhelming to other kids. Further support and teaching around when it’s appropriate to be assertive will help her to have more satisfying friendships in her peer group.” There’s nothing critical or pejorative about that.

  6. OH my gosh. To see David trying to teach a room full of preschoolers . . . it could be a reality TV show.

  7. I see Waxing and I cross-posted. 🙂 And Waxing, I think you have a point … assertive little girls are usually “bossy,” and assertive little boys are usually bullies of some description, though often not the cruel kind, just the “it’s going to be my way, damn it, or I’ll hit you” kind, which is different from the “you don’t deserve to live, so I’ll hit you” kind of bully. In both cases, though, it’s basically the same problem … a lack of understanding regarding how to be appropriately assertive without going too far with it.

  8. I mean of course, that being bossy and being a benign bully are the same problem. Being an asshole bully is a different problem. OK. I’m really done now.

  9. pandemonic Says:

    Sassiness is a good thing. I’m not sure bossiness is. I’d direct her towards the sassy side, RN. My manager and I just had a conversation about this this morning. My daughter is bossy. I’m sassy. There’s a distinct difference.

    As for swearing… I remember when we were called into the principal’s office one day when my son was in fifth grade. The teacher was indignant and annoyed. She said Mr. D Jr. was swearing.

    My son said “crap” in school.

    My husband and I could barely contain ourselves. We almost burst out into peals of laughter.

    Later in the car, we compared notes. “What do you think about the word crap?” I said.

    He said, “I was just glad it wasn’t another four letter word.” No shit.

  10. Pete Says:

    I recall as a young teenager, mowing the lawn and hitting a rock and saying the EXACT same thing RD did. It did not occur to me that because the mower was so loud that I actually said it louder than the mower was. The entire neighborhood heard it, including my father, who was none too pleased, and made it clear in no uncertain terms. I have since learned it is an unwise thing thing to say and don’t recommend it under any cirsumstances. Crap however is acceptable. And when someone qacts way too big for their britches and acts like they know all, I call them an intelligent prostitute. They look at me puzzled, and if they think hard enough, translate that a f—ing know-it-all.

  11. modestypress Says:

    There’s more to come in my series. But in the meantime:

    RG is mostly “sassy.” I think that’s a good distinction. Her best friend Mia is obsessive-compulsive and definitely bossy. Mia started the new pre-school a week before RG, so as an introvert I imagine RG was happy to see Mia there when she started, but my impression is that they may or may not be life long friends. In any case, that’s why I say Mia will someday be head of Homeland Security and RG will be the person you call when you get one phone call.

    However, RG’s role may be more sinister. As I’ve mentioned once, one day when she was two years old, I saw her Mommy introduce her to a little boy of the same age as they mommies met with tykes in tow. RG walked up to the to the little boy and slapped him, hard, on the face, with no preliminary discussion or warning.

    In the same administration where Mia is head of HS, RG may be a covert operator in charge of pre-emptive strikes. I will get to RG’s shock at Grandma’s vocabular in a few days.

    A friend I once taught high school with would exclaim, “Oh, peanut butter!” when stressed. I don’t know if she was thinking creamy or crunchy when she expressed that strong opinion.

  12. truce Says:

    It seems to me that the difference between ‘sassy’ and ‘bossy’ is a sense of humour. Bossy sounds like a boring person, telling others what to do. Sassy sounds like a fun person who can stand up for themselves and others and who won’t be bossed around.

    I suspect I have been both.

    I worked as a nanny for several years to pay my way through university, and I am pleased to report that there is now a whole generation of children in various european countries who, when thwarted by some recalcitrant piece of machinery, will cry “oh bloody buggering poo!”

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