Sunday, November 23, 2008

The F Word

A scene from earlier this week:

Kid: Uh oh, I almost said the "F" word.

Me: Hmmmm. What's the "F" word?

Kid: You know, Mom, FART.

Me: Oh yes, fart, the "F" word!

We watched War Games with The Kid yesterday, thinking it would a good fit for our computer obsessed boy who is being bombarded with military lingo on the playground. It was a hit, but I did not expect the number of expletives that peppered the film, despite it's PG rating.

I prepared The Kid for kissing, which is a big drawback in films for him, I remembered a couple of kisses. I remembered Matthew Broderick in all his computer geeky-ness and Ally Sheedy in her dewy youth. I was pleasantly surprised to see a young John Spencer as an army officer who's conscience gets the best of him in the first moments of the film. (Will I ever see him without mentally referencing The West Wing, without shouting "Leo!")

Movies were paced differently in the 80's and The Kid got a little antsy waiting for things to get going. Once the computers entered the story line though, he was hooked. It's rated PG but I was just not prepared for all the sh*t and *sshole references. At the first one, The Kid raised his eyebrows and looked over at me to see how I was going to react. I shrugged. At the next one, he giggled.

We've talked about some of these words and I've told The Kid they're not bad words. They have no special powers. They are words that are impolite, words we don't repeat because they're offensive and unimaginative, not bad. Words that if you say them at school, you'll get in trouble.

This language, and this playground education of tanks and brigades and military strategies, are steps he's taking into the world of being a big kid, of being a BOY with a capital B and the last thing I want to do is get left behind. So we spent our weekend exploring the words I'd rather he not say and drawing sketches of armored tanks.

My tank looked more like an elephant.


  1. I think it's a sign of maturity to realize that certain language is designated for certain places.

    Those Turky Run pictures are wonderful.

  2. Sounds like my recent conversations with my four-year-old, except her classmates have been dolling out lectures on "taking the Lord's name in vain", and the H-word. You know, "heck".

  3. Thanks, Mrs. G. He is a sort of mature seven year old.

    Welcome, Jen. I've been lurking on your blog for a while and I'm doing a little happy dance to see you over here!

    My son came home a week ago and asked me why God gets angry when you point your middle finger? Ah, playground ethics lessons...

  4. I haven't really had any language issues yet (well, there was that time in Target, when he was about two and half, and started shouting "Damn" over and over, as loudly as he could), but I'm sure it's coming.

    And I like how you're handling it--they ARE unimaginative, aren't they?

  5. Thanks, Karen. As a writer, I want him to understand that words are powerful, that language is important but not give power away to these "swear" words.

  6. It's been a few years since we had our talks about words and how we use them. Like you, my view was that there are no "bad" words, but that people can use words to hurt or shock other people, and that's not kind. We talked about how Grandma might be hurt and surprised to hear certain words, and that when words are forbidden, some kids want to use them, just because they've been told they can't or shouldn't. So, kids, no words are forbidden here, but think about why you want to use certain words, and what their effect might be.

    I've had to ask Owen to tone down the "crap" exclamations, more because I needed to hear some variety, than because it's a "forbidden word". (How can i forbid a word I use regularly?)

    Jesse informed me years ago that he knew ALL the "bad" words that exist, and he was never going to use any of them. Huh.

    I'd forgotten about War Games! Was seeing the old timey computers a blast?

  7. Yes! The computers were huge. We also had a laugh at the old-timey telephones with the curly cords.

    I had forgotten the strong anti-war message at the end. It sparked a lot of good conversation.