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)

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Courtney October 8, 2010 at 3:25 pm

Oh my, that is just too funny. Horrifying for you in the moment, but gosh, the things kids say!

I had a friend who had to get her swearing under control after she had her two kids, but her 3 year old picked up on EVERYTHING! When I was at their house for dinner, and I was getting ready to leave, he said "Make sure you don't f'ing hit the garbage cans when you leave, jesus christ. !!!!!! My friend had said that to her husband one insanely crazy morning as everyone was trying to get out the door, and her son then started saying that to EVERYONE who left their house in a car.


Mollie October 8, 2010 at 8:44 pm

Do you think she was trying to say "flick it"? It seems like a weird expression for those circumstances. Although I'm pretty sure I'll be trying it in the future…


Amy Wilson October 8, 2010 at 8:47 pm

Mollie, I wish that was what she was trying to say. i was desperately trying to convince myself of it, which was why I asked her to repeat herself. The second time I was sure: she was cussing like a pirate.

Perhaps she is so familiar with the phrase that she heard someone say they "flicked" a bug and thought, hmm, there's a context in which I can use this colorful new sentiment I have just learned.

Courtney, I love that your friend's kid adopted that long and salty farewell to all visitors. That's awesome. Only because I'm not his mom.


Anonymous October 8, 2010 at 9:28 pm

Oh, I laughed so hard at your story! Kids will say anything. I don't have any grandchildren so I love hearing stories like yours – gives this grandchildrenless grandma a good laugh. Thanks for sharing your family life with us!


Sheila Baum October 9, 2010 at 12:26 am

It reminds me of the first time I dropped "the f-bomb" in front of my parents. I was eight-years-old and out it flew one night while watching TV. "Where did you hear that from?" my dad asked. In a quick thinking effort, I said, "TV." Because you know that word was all over TV in the 80s. Heck,no! I learned it from dad complaining about work, but even then I was smart enough to know what truths dad was able to handle.


Heather October 9, 2010 at 5:53 pm

hahahahahaha!! This is hilarious, as is the equally salty farewell greeting that Courtney relayed. I'm definitely in the minority here, but I just don't think profanity is that big of a deal. Now, if my kids call someone "dumb" or "stupid," you'll watch me see red, for sure. But "shit," "damn," and "hell," those, to me, even as a writer, are simply well-placed invectives. "Fuck" happens to be my very favorite swear word, but I do admit I've toned it down in front of my kids. You do have to admire her contextual prowess, however. To use "fuck" the right way, in context, well, that's impressive at such a young age.


Mommy on the Spot October 13, 2010 at 1:23 am

Just be glad she didn't say it at story time or school. That is one of my biggest fears.


Shannon Alban October 17, 2010 at 5:18 am

Well, as horrifying as it is in the moment, we can at least laugh about it later, right? My crisis is not so much about the word itself, but trying to figure out how to react to it. My Connor (3) was in the car with me (when most of my cursing comes out) when I loudly declared to the car in front of me, "Move UP ya douche!" Not a swear word, but not a nice word to hear from a little boy's mouth…and out it came right back to me! He giggled and said, "Douche. Dat's a pretty funny word". I just looked at him and said, "Did you lose Lightning McQueen in your safe seat?" He dropped it and I haven't heard it since…but it'll probably come out at school.


Jen October 18, 2010 at 3:28 pm

At my IL's house, my DH's aunt, who is a nurse, was telling a funny story about a patient who told her that there should be instructions that suppositories should not be eaten. Well, my 3yo son laughed with us (probably not really understanding) but now thinks "S'POSITOWEE!!" is the funniest word ever…haven't gotten any reports from preschool yet….


Amy Wilson October 18, 2010 at 3:32 pm

well he's right- "suppository" is the funniest word ever…


Toffee October 21, 2010 at 1:56 am

HAHAHAHAHAHA…that made my day!


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