I pick Eddie up from school every single day. A couple days a week he stays late and goes to the after school program so I can can stay late in my classroom. The other three days I brave the dumb school parking lot and get him right after school. Every day I ask him how his day was. Every day we end up chatting during the short, three-mile drive home. His booster seat is in the middle in the back seat with Charlie’s carseat directly behind the driver and Alice’s carseat behind the passenger side. During our chats, I can glance up and see his little face full on in my rear view mirror.
Our conversations range from the mundane to the exceptional. We have talked about both math and God on these drives. But it’s one of our most recent conversation about language that I wanted to share today.
Eddie: Mom today I learned about swear words.
Me: Come again? What?
Eddie: I learned that “shitty” is a swear word. It is, right?
Me: Um. Yeah. It is. May I ask how you learned this?
Eddie: Well. We were in our groups and we were doing word cards and I said the word “city” with and “sh” on the front.
Eddie: Because I got mixed up and thought “ci” sounds like “sh”. But later Mrs. D told me that “city” with an “sh” on the front is actually a swear word and I should probably not say it. So is it? Is “shitty” a swear word?
Me: Uh. Yes. Yes it is.
Eddie: but “shit” is not, right?
Me: Well, yeah. That is a swear word too.
Eddie: Oh. Ok.
We ride along in silence for a couple seconds and then…
Eddie: Who says swear words anyway? I mean, I know we’re not supposed to say them because they are bad, but they are words, so someone must say them, right?
Me: Usually adults. When they are angry.
Eddie: Do you say swear words?
Me: I have. Yes.
Eddie: But they are for adults to say? Because they are bad?
Me: Yeah. They are just not nice. They are pretty ugly and you only say them when your feelings are ugly.
Eddie: Like when your classes don’t listen and you have a bad day?
Me: No….even uglier and angrier and sadder.
Eddie: Like when someone dies? Yeah, I would think death would be shitty.
Me: Yes. Yes it is.
Eddie: Ok mom. I promise not to say it. Not until I am an adult.
The very next day, on the way home.
Me: Yes, Bud?
Eddie: Did you know I am the only kid in first grade who can’t say “fart?”
Me: I doubt that.
Eddie: Well, all of my friends say it. And they laugh when I call it a “toot”.
Me: Why are you guys even talking about that anyway? Bathroom talk is not for school.
Eddie: We talk about it at recess. Not in class. (and I actually looked up in time here to see the massive eye roll you are probably imagining.)
Me: Well what should we do?
Eddie: I should be allowed to say “fart”
Me: But daddy and I don’t think that little kids sound very nice when they use that language.
Eddie: Well I am not a little kid. I’m almost seven AND almost a 2nd grader.
Me: But you have a little brother and sister who are little kids. If you start talking like that, they will do what you do.
Eddie: Do you and dad say the word “fart”?
Me: Yes. But not in front of you guys.
Eddie: Ok. How about I am allowed to use the word “fart” with my friends, but not at home because it’s a “friends word only”.
Me: Huh. Ok. I guess that would be Ok.
When we get home from school, Eddie is allowed to watch Netflix for an hour. Just this week he asked me if he could watch a “not cartoon show”. It’s called Mighty Med.
The show is about these two comic book fans who find this secret entrance into a hospital for superheros. They end up getting jobs there and hilarity ensues. The thing is, the kids are all high school-aged which means they use words like “fart” and “butt” and other things that are not bad (I mean, it’s Disney, after all), but it’s not something I want to hear my four-year-old saying. So since Eddie and I had discussed “fart” as being a “friends only” word, we also talked about how this show is for after school when his younger siblings are not around.
Eddie then asked if this is why he and Charlie and Alice had different profiles on Netflix–to keep their shows separate. And I said, yes. That is exactly why.
I know he feels pretty special being the oldest and having the privilege of using “friends only” words and watching shows that The Littles are not allowed to watch. I feel pretty awesome knowing he feels comfortable enough to talk these things over with me.
Hopefully our lines of communication will always be this open, although I am going to guess he will use the word “shitty” before he’s an adult.