WHAT did you say?

The kids and I were sitting on a bench in the park after school the other day, enjoying what has got to be one of the last days this year we can do that without wearing parkas and muffs. In another reminder of the waning warm weather, a little flying beetle landed  on the seat, next to my not-quite-three year old daughter. She regarded it for a moment, then flicked it with her finger and thumb.

MAGGIE: Fuck it.
Long pause.
ME: Maggie, what did you just say?
MAGGIE: I said “fuck it” to that buggy.

I mean, where to begin? Do I overreact? Underreact? Her two older brothers were watching me.

ME: … Maggie, that’s not nice to say. 
MAGGIE: Why I can’t say “fuck it”?
CONNOR: Mom, what does that mean, “fuck it”?
SEAMUS: “Fuck it” is not a word.
CONNOR: Yes it is, Seamus. It’s spelled F-U-C-K.

Passersby and their dogs are now stopping to stare, thunderstruck. As was I- weren’t these the same kids who were saying grace a few days ago? 

ME: Kids! Just stop saying that word! It’s not nice!
CONNOR: But why isn’t it nice?
SEAMUS: What does it mean?

Good question.

ME: It means… I hate you… and I want you to go away… and I wish you weren’t even here.
SEAMUS: You should just say dat den.
ME: Well, that wouldn’t be nice either, but it’s better than saying…
ME: Connor!
CONNOR: I wasn’t saying it! I was just saying it.

I was able to bring the subject to a close by saying I never, ever wanted to hear them say it again, regardless of context. (Calmly). 

When I told my friend Debbie all of this, she was aghast on my behalf. “Where did she hear that? Where did any of them learn that word?” she gasped.

“Oh, you know,” I said. “We live in New York City. They hear it walking down the street.”
Which they do. I cannot guarantee, however, that they absolutely never heard it come out of my mouth, when I didn’t know I had an audience. 

Nah, it was probably the subway platform. Oh well. Fuck it  I wish that subway platform would go away and wasn’t even here.

(not quite as satisfying)