The F-Word

Breakfast is a frantic time at our house, everyone rushing around, making sure that teeth are brushed, lunches are thrown together and packed in bulging backpacks, homework is done, socks are matching, the kids are fed, and the chocolate sandwiches are made. We eat a lot of Nutella, and instead of pretending it's a healthy choice, we call it like it is and when my son spreads Nutella on a couple slices of toast, slaps them together, then licks the knife, it's a chocolate sandwich.

It's rare that we all sit at the table at the same time between the hours of 7 and 8 AM, but this morning was one of those times. We were huddled around my wife's iTouch watching a baby laugh hysterically at ripped paper. I miss having a baby around. They're like little stoners, finding joy in the simplest things. After watching that (about 7 times) my 4-year old daughter says, "someone said the S-word at school yesterday." The 5 year old and 9 year old were both suddenly quiet, the S-word is not allowed in our house and they all know that its utterance leads to an immediate trip to "the hole" (otherwise known as sitting on the bottom stair for a time-out). Luckily the 4 year old left it at that and did not say the S-word, "stupid."

We all breathed a sigh of relief, then my son said quietly, "I know what the F-word is."

My wife and I looked at each other, our eyes widened a little. Had it come this fast, the kid is in kindergarten and he already knows the F-word? I guess I shouldn't be surprised that kids are growing up faster in this hyperdrive world where things get passed around and repeated on Facebook and Twitter faster than you can say Numa Numa, a world where my Grandma is already quoting Charlie Sheen, "My Metamucil is working today...winning." I remember when I would have to explain "where's the beef?" to my parents; see, it's this old lady looking at a really big bun and she's asking where's the beef because the patty is so small, and it's funny because she's old and she keeps saying where's the beef. You could get a laugh with an appropriately timed "where's the beef?" a year or two after the commercial first aired. I assume that in the next week or so, everyone will have used the term "I have Adonis DNA" at least ten times. The ironic "Duh winning" t-shirts will be tired before the 3-5 day shipping window has passed. They will be stuffed at the bottom of the t-shirt drawer between a bright red Speaker City t-shirt, an Obama t-shirt, and a "That's What She Said" t-shirt (all of which I actually own).

"What's the F-word?" I asked, tentatively, because I didn't really want to know the answer, hoping it wasn't my fault, that I hadn't let it slip. We cancelled cable a couple of years ago, so my profanity-laced tirades had been quelled with the serene absence of Fox News.

"Frickin'," he said, looking at the ground, expecting a trip to the hole. My wife and I looked at each other and smiled at the retained innocence of our 5 year old. My older daughter seemed as relieved as us; she nodded enthusiastically "that's right buddy, frickin'," happy that she was still the only kid in the house with knowledge of the word that trumps all others. Her maturity was secured, and I was thankful to her for playing along.

"That's right, and you shouldn't say that word," I told him, reveling in this moment of parental skill.

"I know what the B-word is, too," my son wasn't content to impress us with frickin', so I waited for the "butt" that was sure to follow.


Again, silence, and I tried to hold it in, tried to look stern and prep myself for the lecture to come, but I just couldn't do it. I started laughing, hard, basically cementing in the 5 year old brain that bullshit equals funny.

I guess things don't change that much. I remember eavesdropping on a conversation between my mom and my uncle. They were talking about a politician who had been caught with a prostitute. I was probably around 10 years old and I didn't know the word prostitute, so I asked. My mom went into this long explanation about how sometimes women charge money for things like kissing, hugging and dates. I'm sure she chose her words very carefully and was as delicate as possible, trying to preserve the innocence, the baby laughing at ripped paper. I patiently listened to her explanation before saying, "Oh, you mean a hooker."

I'm sure they laughed.

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